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UoP Students are Changing Lives with the Special Olympics Plymouth and District


The Special Olympics aim "to create sustainable sports opportunities for people with an Intellectual (Learning) Disability in Plymouth and surrounding area for their enjoyment and become potential Athletes for Special Olympics at Local, Regional, National or International Competitions."

Each week the Student Led Volunteer team, coordinated and led by Abi Gilbert and Cara Baer, participate at Special Olympics club sessions.

The role of the volunteer students at these sessions is to simply have fun! Students engage with the athletes, adults with intellectual disabilities, providing the athletes with a fun and sociable evening. The Student Led Volunteering Project leaders encourage students to take part as a fun way to get away from university stress and change the lives of these wonderful athletes whilst only giving up a small amount of time.

Paige Parsons, Volunteer said:

"I enjoy engaging in a positive and social environment, it is really fun! My favourite thing is how happy I feel at the end of every session. I like getting to know the athletes the more I visit, it has allowed me to feel part of the community"

Jerome Stockton, Volunteer said:

"If I’m having a bad day, Special Olympics always fixes that for me.”

Students are encouraged to participate in any and all sports games taking place that day, from badminton and boccia to hockey and basketball! The level of sport skill is varied across the athletes and volunteers so there is no pressure to be particularly sporty and the sports played at the sessions can vary from week to week but there is always something upbeat and energetic running alongside calmer low-key sports so there is something for everyone.The project gets students engaged in their community and provides them with volunteering opportunities that will allow them to develop personal and employability skills, whilst also awareness for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Volunteers sign up on a weekly basis, so there is low commitment in order to allow students to balance their university life accordingly. Students have built strong friendships with their peers through regular attendance to the trips, and are always friendly and welcoming to new people trying it out!

Abi Gilbert, Student Led Volunteering (SLV) Co-Project Leader said:

"Running the trips on behalf of SLV Special Olympics is without doubt the most meaningful thing I have done with my time at university. I always look forward to my Wednesday evenings when I can dedicate my time to volunteering to such a worthy cause. Everyone involved is so friendly and welcoming, both athletes and our volunteers alike! They really are the ones that make the project such a success and I feel proud to be a part of it"

Cara Baer, Student Led Volunteering (SLV) Co-Project Leader said:

"Special Olympics is the highlight of my week. It has developed my confidence and personal growth and it benefits the wider community."


Are you interested in taking part in this Student Led Volunteering Project and changing the lives of members of the local community?

  • The group of volunteers meet Abi and Cara in the Hive (in the SU) on Wednesdays at 5:30pm
  • Taxis are then provided by the SU to take the volunteers to the YMCA on Honicknowle Lane where the Special Olympics sessions take place
  • Taxis are provided again to bring students back to the university after the session ends at 6:30pm. 

Find out more and sign up today here.

The Special Olympics Student Led Volunteering team will be hosting a Christmas Fair in Aid of Special Olympics Plymouth and District, come down and show your support, pick up a few Christmas presents and enter the raffle for a chance to win some great prizes!

Want to celebrate your success? Click here