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Become a Volunteer

Special Olympics Washington depends on - and succeeds because of - the time, energy, dedication and commitment of volunteers throughout the state.  Special Olympics Volunteers help to provide year-round sports training, athletic competition, and fundraising events for our athletes with intellectual disabilities.
 
There are two levels of Volunteers: Class A Volunteers and Class B / Event Volunteers.  Within each level there are many ways you can volunteer with Special Olympics Washington. Listed below is more information about the registration process as well as additional forms to fill out as the process continues.

However, please feel free to simply fill out the Special Olympics Volunteer Interest Form and a Special Olympics Washington staff member will contact you shortly with any additional steps.

Registration & Screening Process
Registration of all volunteers is a requirement of the organization’s Special Olympics General Rules and a prerequisite for volunteer participation coverage through our insurance company. For purposes of clarification volunteers in Special Olympics fall in to two categories: Class A (volunteers who have regular close physical contact with athletes) or Class B (volunteers who have limited contact with athletes).

Screening is mandatory for Class A volunteers only, whose duties require them to be in direct personal contact and/or alone with athletes, for example:  Coach, Unified Partner, Assistant Coach, Private driver, Chaperone and “Positions of Trust”.

Both a criminal history background check through the Washington State Patrol and a national vendor, which includes a sex offender registry, will be conducted for all Class A volunteers. The screening process is conducted through the Special Olympics Washington’s State Office. Once clearance is approved, it is valid only for a three-year period of time.

All volunteers, whether Class A or Class B, when signing in to work at a particular venue site or event will be asked to enter their name and information on a Disclosure Form and provide a signature attesting to the disclosure statement. This is to ensure current data and proof of actual participation. Volunteers may also be asked to present valid proof of vehicle insurance and photo identification. Participation in a specific annual activity (i.e., fund raisers, Summer Games, Winter Games) requires completion of a new Volunteer Registration Form each year. No individual or group volunteering in support of SOWA is exempt.

No volunteer may be actively involved in the training and competition of Special Olympics’ athletes without having been screened through Washington State Patrol and a national database. If you have any questions regarding the clearance process, please contact the Special Olympics Washington State Office.

Additional Volunteer Information

Code of Conduct
Special Olympics Washington expects volunteers to abide by the following code of conduct:

  • Embody the mission of Special Olympics.
  • Act in the best interest of Special Olympics athletes while enabling and encouraging their participation and success.
  • Model good sports behavior by adhering to Special Olympics sports rules and regulations.
  • Fulfill your volunteer commitment to the best of your abilities.  
  • Uphold the dignity of the athletes.
  • Respect each athlete as an individual.
  • Applaud their accomplishments, promote their safety and respect their right to privacy.  

Promote a safe and healthy environment at events
Refrain from any knowing or deliberate act that may create dangerous or unhealthy situations or behaviors for Special Olympics athletes. This includes use of tobacco products, consumption of alcoholic beverages and non-prescribed controlled substances, carrying a weapon, assaulting another individual or otherwise disregarding the safety of other persons or their property.
  
Maintain confidentiality
Refrain from disclosing any personal or confidential information about the organization, athletes or other volunteers.
 
Act in the best interests of Special Olympics Washington
Refrain from knowingly influencing Special Olympics staff, sponsors or participants so as to bring financial benefit to you or any person, corporation or entity with which you are affiliated. Refrain from misrepresenting the organization in any way. Do not use Special Olympics events to promote personal politics or other views. 

Interacting with Special Olympics Athletes
Volunteers are to be friendly and engaging towards Special Olympics athletes. Volunteers should introduce themselves and ask the athlete his or her name. Start conversations by asking about their sports, their coaches, their teams, their results or what they like about the event. Congratulate athletes for their participation and success or wish them well in their upcoming competition. Treat children as children and adults as adults. If you need to set limits regarding appropriate behavior, be pleasant and firm.

Some helpful tips on how to interact with Special Olympics athletes include:

  • Refer to Special Olympics participants as "athletes" rather than "kids".
  • Refer to Special Olympics participants as “Special Olympics athletes” not “Special Olympians”.
  • A person "has an intellectual disability" rather than "is suffering from," "is afflicted with," or "is a victim of" mental retardation.
  • A person "uses a wheelchair" rather than "is confined to" or "is restricted to" a wheelchair.
  • A person is "disabled" or "physically challenged" rather than "crippled."
  • A person who is partially sighted is "visually impaired" rather than "blind." 
  • A person is "hearing impaired" rather than "deaf" or "deaf-mute."
  • A person has a "seizure disorder" rather than "is epileptic."

Insurance
Insurance is maintained by Special Olympics Washington to cover all aspects of the organization’s operations, i.e. commercial general liability, non-owned and hired automobile liability, volunteer medical malpractice, and participant accident insurance. To be eligible for coverage volunteers must be in compliance with the following process:

Special Olympics Washington's policy provides protection to employees, athletes, and registered volunteers of Special Olympics for liability claims arising as a direct result of the use of a non-owned or hired automobile. For coverage to be effective, the vehicle must be used for Special Olympics' business with the permission of Special Olympics and driven by an employee, athlete or a registered volunteer of Special Olympics. It also provides coverage to registered Class A Volunteers of Special Olympics who are using their personal vehicles to transport individuals on behalf of, and with the permission of, Special Olympics.

Regardless of whether one uses a rented or personal automobile when conducting Special Olympics business, all drivers are expected to use good judgment, maintain a valid driver’s license, adequate collision/comprehensive coverage and adhere to all state laws and safety recommendations.