Ryan Smith says joining Special Olympics New Zealand changed his life. Needless to say he is jumping at the chance to be able to share his experiences and enthusiasm about the organisation with others as a Global Messenger.
“Special Olympics is a family that I am proud to be part of. It has given me a new outlook on life. I used to think that having an intellectual disability meant you were labelled as an outcast. I’ve since been proven wrong. A medical condition doesn’t define you. I want to inspire other people to follow their dreams and show them that I’m living proof that achieving your dreams is possible. I want to give back to this organisation that has given me so much,” he says.
Ryan joined Special Olympics as a 15-year-old in Manawatu. His mother had suggested to him that joining Special Olympics basketball might help improve his social skills and coordination. It certainly did!
“Over the past 10 years I have competed in athletics, basketball, swimming, and tenpin bowling achieving personal bests, ribbons, certificates and medals. My most notable achievement was winning a gold medal in the 4x100m relay in athletics at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2011 in Athens, Greece. I’ve assisted with fundraising events, served a two-year term as Special Olympics Manawatu’s Athlete Representative, and now assist with coaching the junior tenpin bowlers for Special Olympics Marlborough. I’m a much different person to when I joined Special Olympics!” says Ryan.
Ryan also works as a kitchen hand at Bethsaida Retirement Village in Blenheim and is completing work experience at Oscars Video Store.
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