Being just 17 years old, Grace Payne says she was surprised to be chosen to become a Global Messenger so soon, but is very excited and proud of herself.
Grace joined Special Olympics Counties in 2010, initially with the sport of ten pin bowling. She has since hung up her bowling hat and is now a dedicated member of the Club’s basketball team.
At the end of her first year of ten pin bowling she was recognised with the Most Improved Female Bowler award, and in 2013 she was part of the Club’s gold medal winning basketball team at the Special Olympics National Summer Games.
“Special Olympics has changed my life in amazing ways, like gaining in confidence, making lots of friends, meeting new people from different Clubs and making me feel more involved,” Grace says. “It makes me feel like I’m in one big family.”
Grace is also a member of Special Olympics Counties’ Athlete Leadership Programme, which sees her assisting with organising fundraisers and events such as end of year prize-giving ceremonies and volunteer brunches. She’s now looking forward to the new challenge of becoming a Global Messenger.
“I’m really looking forward to travelling more by myself, getting to meet amazing new people and getting the experience of being a Global Messenger.
“I hope I will be able to to increase my confidence in public speaking and spread the word about Special Olympics.”
Alongside her sporting success, Grace is also a talented musician. She plays the clarinet in the Pukekohe High School Wind Band, which recently won a bronze medal at a music competition in Matamata, and a silver medal at the 2016 KBB Music Festival.