Setting Up an Athlete Input Council

by Special Olympics Papua New Guinea

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  • Special Olympics Papua New Guinea set up their first Athlete Input Council. The council places athletes in a meaningful leadership role where they can have their say on how programmes are planned and implemented.
  • Athletes on the council meet officially twice a year to discuss their Special Olympics experience: what they have learned, how to improve and solutions to make their experience better. They also meet informally before competitions and events to discuss and plan how they will be involved.
  • Special Olympics Papua New Guinea also employs selected athletes casually to support them in the office and to support various events and activities. They are rotated around different activities, taking turns to engage with participants of the programmes.



  • Since 2017, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea had been asking athletes, parents and siblings to provide feedback on how programmes should be run and what the role of athletes should be. The most recurring comment was for athletes to have a true voice and actively participate. So, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea decided to set up an Athlete Input Council.
  • Athletes on the council have to first be trained in Special Olympics’ Leadership and Skills curriculum. 2 modules from the curriculum, ‘Introduction to Athlete Leadership’ and ‘Understanding Leadership, were delivered by Special Olympics Papua New Guinea staff to a batch of athlete leaders.
  • With close to 80 athletes now trained, staff discussed their criteria for recruiting athletes into the council and invited them to attend the first council meeting. Of 20 athletes that attended, 10 were selected to attend a 3-day training and confirmed to be on the athlete input council.


  • “Since joining Special Olympics, my son has learned so much. He is now training to be an assistant coach in Netball, who would have thought back then that was possible for Siosi? Being a member of the Athlete Input Council and being engaged in the different sports has really improved his life, he is now also teaching his younger siblings what he learned during his leadership training. I am so proud of my son.” – Keruma Naime, mother of Siosi Sebastian, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea athlete leader and member of the Athlete Input Council
  • “I am so proud that our athletes with intellectual disability have set up this council which will allow them to express themselves. We can now hear how they are treated by coaches, teachers and managers and even parents and we can do something about it.” – Ben Theodore, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea Vice President and Interim Chairman of the Athlete Input Council
  • “I feel free to share my experience with other athlete leaders in the group and to be myself.” – Thomas George, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea athlete leader

What we learnt:

  • “We still have a lot of work to do with our athlete leaders, but so far I am happy. We have started small but we are making a difference.” – Margaret Nukinja, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea’s Team leader for Athlete Leadership
  • “Our athlete leaders will now have the loudest voice in the program and they will determine SO Papua New Guinea’s direction in the future.” – Sophia Tuna, Special Olympics Papua New Guinea National Director


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