Maxwell: Why you should join our Special Olympics Journey SO GET THE KETTLE ON, GET COMFORTABLE, AND LET ME TALK YOU THROUGH HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO DISABLED PEOPLE’S LIVES - EVERYDAY OF THE WEEK! I had the privilege of visiting 2,600 Special Olympics GB athletes with learning disabilities during the summer of 2017. These athletes took part in 20 sports which were hosted by Sheffield at the Special Olympics National Games. Upon reflection, I can see why it's known as one of the greatest ever single events in the UK for people with learning disabilities. Okay, so as a potential #24hrSPINATHON hero, I wanted to share some of the athletes stories who competed at the Sheffield 2017 Games as every penny raised for Special Olympics helps athletes just like these, everyday, all around the UK. Firstly, check out what Sheffield looked like last August: Research shows us that there are 1.5 million people across Great Britain with a learning disability and a further 200 babies with learning disabilities born each week. It is the most common disability in the UK and the Special Olympics movement provides something very special for these adults and young people to get involved with. If you did some research, you'd find out that people with learning disabilities are at risk of exclusion from mainstream society and from opportunities of employment, ill health, lack of friendship and of not achieving their potential or developing confidence in themselves. Physical activity is a simple human right but is often something vulnerable to barriers - barriers which thousands face when it comes to leading an active lifestyle. Supporting Special Olympics GB enables organisations, like Active Nation, to use sport as a platform to give children and adults with a learning disability the opportunity to achieve their personal best in an inclusive and supportive environment, whilst increasing inclusion within the wider community at the same time. This is therefore my reason that you should join the Special Olympics Great Britain journey (and the 24hr Spinathon event next month!) The 24hr Spinathon will see teams spin around the clock for 24 hours in a bid to raise money for our local Special Olympics athletes. All proceeds raised go towards funding athletes travel, entry fees, accommodation and food costs at various sports competitions around the UK during 2018. Our local athletes train at various locations around Southampton, Eastleigh, Winchester and the New Forest before heading off to events that focus on building their physical fitness levels, demonstrating their courage, experiencing joy and participating in skill building and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. The Special Olympics competition programme is something called 'non elite' which means that it is open to all abilities thanks to a very inclusive 'divisioning' system. This system offers athletes the opportunity to compete among those with similar abilities from all across the country. Any Special Olympics athlete from the age of eight has the opportunity to take part in local, regional, national and international level Special Olympics competitions in a variety of 26 sports. If you'd like more information about Special Olympics in the Solent Region, get in touch with a member of the Active Nation Communities team by clicking here. If you want to join me and the Special Olympics spinathon journey you can sign up here or contact a member of Active Communities Team here. I've now worked within community sport development for four years and have witnessed first hand the joy, friendship and incredible opportunity that disability sport has offered disabled adults and children within Hampshire. I ask that you help us develop our wonderful local talent and get involved with your local club and fundraising events. If you'd like a chat about how Active Nation can work with your community drop me a email here. It's time to get spinning and I look forward to seeing you on the 2nd February to kick off our 24 hours of excitement, sweat, chaffing and fundraising. See you there!