Eat, Sleep, Special Olympics GB, Repeat.
That’s how new Athlete Leadership Group Chair Katie Day describes her life having been part of the City of Birmingham Special Olympics programme since 1997.
Having competed in multiple National Games and winning a silver medal at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2005, Katie (37) has made many incredible memories on her journey to taking this prestigious role as Chair.
“Someone at school recommended Special Olympics GB to me,” she said. “I initially got involved in athletics and swimming at Kingsbury School and I’ve been hooked ever since.
“I’ve gone from being an athlete who was scared to speak, to an athlete who has a voice at national level.
“I was quite quiet when I first got involved in Special Olympics GB. I knew that I had a voice when I joined the City of Birmingham club, but I didn’t know how to use it properly. The ALT has been a great platform to help me to improve this and I can now get my thoughts and opinions across to a very influential audience. This has also given me a great deal of confidence and I now run my own gardening business.
“It’s not just me though. I’ve seen several athletes go from being really shy and quiet, and I’ve seen their confidence grow. Not just in sports but in everyday life. Some of them now have jobs as a result of the confidence that they’ve built from being involved in Special Olympics GB.
Katie was one of the founder members of the Athlete Leadership Team, having started in 2017 as the secretary. She replaces the inaugural Chair Ian Harper, of Special Olympics Worcestershire, who stood down from his post at the December 2022 Board meeting in London.
“Ian did a fantastic job in setting up the foundations, as he called it,” said Katie. “I want us to expand those foundations to ensure that all athletes have the confidence to express their voice.
“Staff and coaches at Special Olympics GB are listening and I believe that we can see many more positive changes come over the coming years as a result of the consultation with Athlete Leadership Team.”
Formed in 2017, the Athlete Leadership Team was created to ensure that our 6,500 Special Olympics GB athletes are consulted in all strategic decisions and have a voice about all activities, programmes and support that is provided by the charity.
For Katie, stepping into the role of Chair is a seamless move, having acted as the athlete representative for Special Olympics City of Birmingham and for the West Midlands Region for several years.
From a participation perspective, Katie can regularly be found swimming at Stetchford Leisure or skiing on the Ackers dry sky slope, but she also gets involved in athletics and will try her hand at any sport.
“I’m a very active member of the City of Birmingham programme,” she said. “Eat, sleep Special Olympics repeat is what I love to tell people!
“Special Olympics extends beyond me though as it’s a big part of our family life. My Dad, Mike, has been Chair of City of Birmingham since 2005, so there’s now two Chairs in the house. My sister Caroline is also the Treasurer.”
Katie and Mike both worked as volunteers at the NEC boxing arena in the recent Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with Katie being presented with a Volunteer of the Games award for her contribution throughout the event. They also both worked as volunteers at the hockey stadium at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“I’m very proud to take on this Athlete Leadership Team Chair role though. Never did I think when I started in 1997 that I would be going to a Special Olympics World Game in my role as ALT Chair 26 years later.
“I’ve made so many great memories since starting with Special Olympics GB, including getting my silver medal from our founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, in 2005. Now it’s time to make more memories and I can’t wait until we get together for our first Athlete Leadership Team meeting later this month.”
Further details on the Athlete Leadership Team and all members can be found here.