A day of Unified Sport with Toyota UK

Special Olympics GB is delighted to be working with Toyota UK to promote inclusion in communities through Unified Sports. This comes as part of a three year regional partnership between Toyota Motor Europe and Special Olympics Europe Eurasia to support Special Olympics grass-roots inclusive programming and Unified sporting events across the region.

Earlier this month we held our first engagement day with Toyota UK colleagues in support of the International Day of Persons with a Disability - a day introduced by the United Nations to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all corners of society and to increase awareness of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life. 

The day was a great opportunity for us to share with Toyota UK colleagues more about the work of Special Olympics in Great Britain and to show the power of sport in transforming the lives of our athletes through the telling of their incredible stories. As part of the panel discussion we were delighted to be joined by:

  • Matt Dodds, Special Olympics St Albans, who is part of the Special Olympics GB Athlete Leadership Team and won Gold at the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015
  • Karen Oosthuizen, Special Olympics Surrey, who has been involved with Special Olympics for nearly 15 years and as well as taking part in Ten Pin Bowling at a National Games level, represented Special Olympics GB in Alpine Skiing at the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria
  • Elanor Sinden, who trains with Special Olympics Surrey and has been selected to represent Special Olympics GB at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Kazan. Elanor will be heading out to Russia to take part in the Slalom and Giant Slalom events as part of the Alpine Skiing competition in 2023.

Matt said: “I really enjoyed the day with Toyota. I loved being part of the panel to share my experience of the Special Olympics World Games in LA and to hear Elanor and Karen talk about their Winter Games experiences which is new to me. The bowling was also wicked and I found out I’m actually not too bad!”  

Our Athletes were also joined by Special Olympics GB Board Member, Alison Rayson who shared her personal experience of having a child with an intellectual disability and why she is so passionate about the inclusion of Special Olympics GB athletes and their peers.

Alison, said: "I absolutely loved being part of such a positive an energised panel discussion with our partners Toyota. Spending time with our athletes and hearing them share their personal experiences and stories about the impact of Special Olympics GB on their lives was as always inspiring.  They have so much to teach all of us and have a real passion and determination to help other young aspiring athletes with an intellectual disability. Through my son Jack, I have seen first hand the impact sport can have on transforming someone's life which is why I'm so passionate about ensuring everyone knows about Special Olympics GB so we can reach more of the 1.5 million people who live with intellectual disabilities in Great Britain. I'm really looking forward to supporting the Special Olympics GB team and excited to be work closely with the Toyota UK team to help unlock future opportunities and transform more lives."

Rachel Shepherd, General Manager, People & Workplace, Toyota UK said: “We were delighted to welcome the Special Olympics GB Team to our offices and I was privileged to have the pleasure of sharing the stage with such talented individuals. Everyone was so inspired by the stories shared and can’t wait to get involved and do more to support. We look forward to introducing more of our colleagues to what we are starting to see is the inspirational world of Special Olympics GB.”    

The day finished with a game or two of Unified bowling between Toyota UK colleagues and athletes from Special Olympics Surrey. It’s fair to say there was lots of fun and competition had by all!

We are really looking forward to working closer together with Toyota UK to help make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place - one athlete, one volunteer, one family member at a time.

We are Special Olympics GB. We are Inclusion in Action.