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I would have to say that I have never seen such incredible dedication, passion and positive attitude as I have working within the special Olympic movement and it truly inspires me each and every day.

Blair McIntosh

Vice President of Sport

Special Olympics Canada

× The interview with Blair McIntosh was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

1Tell us about your role as the Vice President of Sport at Special Olympics Canada. What does a typical day look like for you?

This is a tough question as it sometimes changes daily. Having said that, my overall responsibility is to oversee the sport department, which includes all sport and program operations and delivery.

Many relate our organization to competitions only.

However, there are many aspects of that fall into the responsibility of the sport department including athlete leadership, Active Start and FUNdamentals, Coach Development, Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD), National and World Games, our National Team Program and Healthy Athletes. All of these are part of what encompasses a typical day.

In addition, we are very focused and place a strong emphasis on Gender Equity and Safe Sport as key components of our sport programming.

I Chair a Canadian Sport Committee, which includes being the person responsible for sport in each one of our Provincial/Territorial Chapters, and we meet on a regular basis to discuss sport and program development.

I am the main liaison for Special Olympics Canada with our Government partner Sport Canada.

All of these components in one way or another fit into the typical day and it takes a great team, which I am privileged to have within the Sport Department to make this happen.

2How do you define key organizational objectives both in the day to day and on a broader scale, and share them with your staff?

Special Olympics Canada has incorporated very strong values and operations in place to allow us to meet our organizational goals and objectives.

We have a strong Strategic Plan that is developed in cooperation with all our Provincial and Territorial Chapters so that it is truly national in scope.

We also align with Special Olympics International’s Strategic Plan so that there is consistency amongst the Movement.

We engage all of our staff in all components of not only our Strategic Plan but also our yearly Operational Plan.

These include very specific metrics and key performance indicators to measure our success not only within Special Olympics Canada but also with our National Partners and Sport Canada, who is our major funding partner.

In order for us to truly advance the movement, it is critical to involve and engage our staff in the day-to-day operations, decision-making and development of our strategic direction.

3You have a distinguished career background in the amateur sport system. How are you able to transfer your knowledge and skills regarding this industry area to your current role as Vice President of Sport at Special Olympics Canada?

I believe one of the most important aspects of your career is developing a strong network and relationships.

It provides you with such an opportunity to learn from others and to grow. As with any part of life the further you cast your net the more you will learn and create opportunities.

Over my career, I have been very fortunate to have that net cast across all levels of sport including all levels of government, community and grassroots, competition and events from a local to an international stage and along that journey, I have volunteered thousands of hours.

All of the knowledge and skills developed along that journey have provided me with the ability to be in a position as Vice President of Sport at Special Olympics Canada.

I hope that I can share that knowledge and experience with my colleagues and that together we can continue to advance programs for people with intellectual disabilities in sport.

4When was the point you realized that you were meant to do this career? Take us through that realization. If you can’t pinpoint the exact realization, tell us why you wanted a career in sport.

I’m not sure I ever set out to have a career in sport. Having said that, I believe that from the time of my first position in sport I knew I was hooked and wanted my career to continue down the path of sport.

I saw so many different opportunities within the industry and with each new opportunity, I was provided my passion kept getting stronger.

I realized there were so many ways in which I could make a difference and have an impact on others whether it be young athletes in the generic sport system, athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities (Para and Special Olympic athletes), or seniors.

I also realized in each career opportunity that I was learning and growing both professionally and personally.

A career in sport helped change who I was as a person, my values and my appreciation for being able to work in such an incredible industry.

A career in sport also provided me with an understanding of what it means to volunteer and to give back in other ways outside of my career role.

5What would you say is the right attitude to be successful working at Special Olympics Canada?

Given the nature of what we do, I would say that the most important attitude is positivity. That is what drives our organization.

Our athletes and volunteers deserve a positive attitude because they demonstrate that each and every day.

Working at Special Olympics Canada is a privilege and a positive caring attitude allows you to deliver quality programs and services to our athletes, coaches, administrators and volunteers.

I think what goes along with that positive attitude must be a great deal of passion for the movement.

I would have to say that I have never seen such incredible dedication, passion and positive attitude as I have working within the special Olympic movement and it truly inspires me each and every day.

6What does it mean to you to work at Special Olympics Canada?

Working at SOC means a great deal to me.

I think it is an incredible organization that stands for values that I hold in my own personal life.

I think it is very special when you can align what is truly important to you as a person with an organization where you work.

Special Olympics Canada is dedicated to enriching the lives of people with an intellectual disability through sport. I can't think of a Mission Statement that would better suit my goals.

I think the other great thing about SOC is the people within the movement across the country.

Our organization is very dependent on over 45,000 volunteers, and to witness the passion of Special Olympic Canada staff and volunteers on a regular basis is something very special and amazing to be able to experience in your job on a daily basis.

Jaelyn Terrion Jaelyn's Final Thoughts

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