Special Olympics Ireland launches Intellectual Disability education module for volunteers

by Anne-Marie Butler, Special Olympics Ireland


Special Olympics Ireland, in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin, launched its intellectual disability module of education for volunteers on Wednesday 2 March 2011.

The module consists of a set of integrated presentations which contain clear and coherent information to enable volunteers to carry out their roles more effectively, thus ensuring a more positive experience for them and the Special Olympics athletes they support. This module is a significant development for Special Olympics Ireland volunteers, particularly as 2011 is the European Year of Volunteers.

The education module consists of six presentations which can each be delivered in isolation, or as a collection of customised modules. Presentation topics include:
—Introduction to intellectual disability
—Athlete health
—common diseases and illness
—Communicating with people with intellectual disability
—Relationships and sexuality
—Safety, vulnerability, assessing risk and behaviour
—Special Olympics Ireland professional ethics in volunteering.

Special Olympics Ireland is delighted to have the involvement of the Intellectual Disability Nursing Discipline at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, whose theoretical and practical expertise and experience has been invaluable to this project. Sixteen Special Olympics Ireland volunteers who have been trained by the staff of the Faculty of Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, TCD, will now deliver these presentations to other volunteers involved in Special Olympics clubs and events throughout the island of Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Paul Keenan (Head of Discipline/Intellectual Disability Nursing) stated: ‘This is a first for our team of lecturers to work with a charity to develop an educational framework to support their stakeholders (athletes and volunteers). We believe that this module of education will assist Special Olympics Ireland in empowering their organisations and improve the quality of volunteering in line with EU objectives for the European Year of Volunteering 2011.

Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland, said: ‘This is such an important project and one we are absolutely delighted to roll out. Volunteers are the backbone of the Special Olympics organisation and we want to empower our volunteers to carry out their roles and duties to greatest effect. I would like to acknowledge and thank the staff of the Intellectual Disability Nursing Discipline at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, for their cooperation and expertise in developing this module.’