Last week twelve Special Olympics New Mexico athletes, partnering with the New Mexico Technology Council and FatPipe ABQ, went through a two-day course learning how to use social media, email, search engines, blogs and the Microsoft Suite, for the purpose of spreading the word about Special Olympics. These twelve, as part of our Athlete Leadership Program, will now serve as “Technology Ambassadors.” The training was far more in-depth than I expected, and as amazed as I was with our athletes and the way they glided through the process, I was equally impressed with those who taught them.
It was very apparent that the course instructors came to the training with high expectations. To quote one of them – “None of us came certain of what the intellectual capabilities of our students would be. Because I personally believe that people in general will rise if expectations are high – I decided to maintain that belief about these athletes. They were amazing and as generic as this may sound, I left the training probably having gotten more out of them than they did me.”
The point is – the instructors taught in a way that was consistent with their expectations, and when they did, our athletes responded accordingly. This was a powerful reminder that we all should be giving thought every day about how we express our expectations of others. Showing doubt and unbelief in someone results in a very different outcome than showing promise and belief in their potential. In Special Olympics we teach and preach “acceptance,” which is exactly what we should be doing. But perhaps along with it, we should notch it up a level and not only simply accept people with intellectual disabilities, but treat them as though they are what they are capable of becoming. They, like all of us, have the potential to be more.