Power to the Volunteer- Motley Magazine, December 2009

Aisling Twomey interviews Danielle Boyle, a PR with Special Olympics Ireland

Special Olympics has a special place in Ireland’s heart, and most definitely is close to students’ hearts also. Every year hundreds of people donate and volunteer with the organisation- and it never fails to be a rewarding experience. I spoke to Danielle Boyle, the PR of a Cork club, and asked her all about why she got involved.

How did you get involved with Special Olympics Ireland?
I got involved in Special OlympIcs back in September 2006 when I was 15 years old. One of my teachers in school talked to us about Special Olympics Ireland. It immediately caught my attention and I took the application form- and the rest, as they say, is history.

What made you decide to help?
I Suppose a lot of people can relate back to Summer 2003 when the Special Olympics Worlds International Games were held here in Ireland. Everyone can remember those live emotional scenes from Croke Park. It was all about supporting difference in a positive light all over the world and that really made me want to get involved when I was in Transition Year.

What’s the best thing about working with the athletes and in the wider organisation?
For me starting out volunteering with the athletes I learned NOT to be judgmental and I’m afraid to say it’s something we all suffer from but through my experience at Special Olympics that aspect of me has started to decrease on a serious level. Another great aspect of our organisation is showing everyone what people with Special Needs can do and achieve in all areas of society and showing that no physical or intellectual barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit.

Do you think that it’s changed your view of the world and the people in it?
One hundred percent!! It has changed my view of how we can automatically judge people without knowing them. It has shown me that all people deserve a chance to express themselves in whatever area of life that they can. It’s so important to stand up and certainly be counted.

Has being involved with SOl taught you new things that you wouldn’t learn anywhere else?
It has taught me so much- especially about perseverance. These athletes persevere so much and in everything they do and-if! weren’t involved in Olympics I don’t know where else I would have learned to persevere myself in the areas that I want to be successful at.

Are there any particular people you’ve met who have influenced you to keep working and volunteering?
I suppose a lot of the people that I’ve met that have kept me going is the athletes themselves. They’re little LEGENDS! They’re full of so much positivity and they’re willing to learn so much about the sports that they a;e involved in; it’s just such a pleasure and I am blessed to work with such a great bunch of people.

What’s next for your club?
Our club is full of such talented athletes and I’ve no doubt you’ll be hearing their names in the next few years. Two of our athletes have made Munster Representation and will be taking place in the Special Olympics National Games in Limerick in summer 2010. If they progress from the national stage they may be flying the flag for Ireland in Greece where the World International Games will be held in Summer 2011