Annie Tane of Chapel Hill completed a four-week, virtual training program in April to become a credited Health Messenger by Special Olympics North Carolina’s governing body, Special Olympics International.
A Health Messenger is a Special Olympics athlete who has been trained to serve as a health and wellness leader, educator, advocate and role model within their Special Olympics communities and the community at large.
Tane’s experience serving as a peer leader within the SONC community is exemplified by her current roles as both a Global Messenger and a member of the SONC Athlete Council. Through the Global Messenger program, athletes are trained as spokespersons for Special Olympics in recruiting potential athletes, volunteers and sponsors through public presentations. As part of the Athlete Council, she joins active Special Olympics athletes from across the state in quarterly meetings to provide input to the president of SONC on issues in the movement.
In order to create more effective public health programs, improve health systems and have community engagement supporting the health of people with intellectual disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities are encouraged to hold leadership positions. The Health Messenger program is empowering athletes, like Tane, to: develop healthy lifestyles; influence other athletes to lead healthier lives; advocate within their communities for inclusion around health and wellness services, education and resources; and develop leaders to advocate for the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities.
“We are so appreciative that Annie wanted to take on this important athlete leadership role,” said SONC Health Director Ellen Fahey. “She is going to be a great role model to her fellow Special Olympics athletes as she teaches them to lead healthier lives.”
About Special Olympics North Carolina
Since 1968, the organization has used the transformative power of sports to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Nearly 40,000 athletes in North Carolina inspire thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers year-round training and competition in 20 Olympic-type sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Youth become agents of change through Unified Champion Schools, an education and sports-based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and create change in their community. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at www.specialolympicsnc.com. Engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.