Special Olympics looking to the future
The Special Olympics has a special place in Irish hearts since the hosting of the World Games here in 2003. Nelson Mandela, a packed Croke Park, Mohammed Ali lighting the flame and host towns making Céad Míle Fáilte so much more than a phrase will live long in the collective consciousness of those who were around at the time.
Over the past two days Ireland has again been a host for the Games, this time to a smaller number of key executives looking at how the the Special Olympics World Games can develop to the next stage following on from Los Angeles in 2016.
Mary Davis is the acting CEO for Special Olympics International and she brought together a core group of supporters, managers and athletes together for a two day Summit in Dublin to ‘get away from the ‘day to day’ and think big about what can be the next stage of development for the games.
Sport for Business were proud to be involved in helping to get the creative juices flowing, hosting a session on how the Games might be funded in future and turning the room into a ‘whooping and hollering’ version of Dragon’s Den.
Within 45 minutes the different groups had produced and presented four ideas, any one of which could transform the way that funding models are applied to the games.
The spark of inspiration was lit by conversations in advance with Keith Wood, a long term supporter of the games, Mike Laflin from Sportcal and Tony Meenaghan from UCD and Livewire who all spoke of the ways in which global sport was moving and how the games might tap into those trends to create something special to match the effort of the athletes.
The Dragon’s Den presentation was won by the Los Angeles Group, led by International Chairman Tim Schriver who brought a touch of Hollywood to the session in creating not only a campaign but a slogan, a roll out programme and a revenue model that we hope to see coming to a screen near you very shortly.
The overall day was pulled together by Neil Carney, fresh from his role as Sporting Director of the European Olympics in Baku and brought in other outside expertise including Julian Saunders from Fleishman Hilliard who’s quoting of Yeats to think like a wise man and speak the language of the people resonated.
As its name suggests the Special Olympics is special in how it can transform our perceptions of what it is to be different. This was the kind of energetic thinking that can drive it as a movement to higher and greater aspirations, while never losing touch with the everyday difference it makes to the lives of thousands across the country and around the world who live with a learning disability.
It was a special day to be involved in.