Poetry for Action: A Special Olympics Athlete’s Story of Advocacy

Special Olympics Athlete Amanda is passionate about promoting inclusion, ending discrimination for individuals with disabilities and encouraging others to pursue their dreams – no matter what obstacles may stand in their way.

Amanda has autism, vision impairment and hydrocephalus. She has experienced bullying, name-calling and numerous traumatic experiences related to her disability. Yet nothing has stopped her from becoming an athlete; a published poet; and training to be a life coach at the Academy for Coaching Excellence in Sacramento.

“What is important to remember is don't let anybody tell your story,” said Amanda. “My mission as a global ambassador, as well as disabilities advocate, is to be a strong voice for others with disabilities. But before I can share my message with others, I first had to become comfortable with it myself.”

Amanda uses her poetry as an expressive voice to share her feelings, thoughts and experiences living with disabilities. Her inspiration comes from many different places – including her past, listening to music or just spending time outdoors.

“I believe the ability to write poetry can really heal the human heart,” she said.

And Amanda has her eye on a bigger picture, as well. She uses her poetry, and ongoing education as a life coach, to advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities.  

“I realize that I can't be quiet about these issues and that I need to expose that disability discrimination exists,” she said. “The only way to make the discrimination go away is to lessen its source of power. We can lessen the source of discrimination by educating ourselves on disability policies as well as rights.”

Amanda’s goal is to become a certified life coach – a rare feat for someone with disabilities – and return to the Academy for Coaching Excellence to continue paving the way for others.

“As a ‘pioneer in this field,’ I want to show the world that it doesn't matter what kind of disabilities you were born with. Anything is possible,” she said. “I'm so thankful to the coaches in my program: Maria, Josh, Allison, Zo, Jeremy and Beth Ann for the support that they've shown me throughout my journey {*read Amanda’s expanded thoughts on her coaches below}. Since they've made such a difference in my life, I would love to pay it forward and make a difference in somebody else's.”

Amanda currently participates in bowling and bocce with Special Olympics and is a trained Global Ambassador. She has been featured in the Fairfield Daily Republic, Ability Magazine and Disability Horizons, among other outlets. And no matter if it’s through sports, writing, coaching or in advocating for others, she leads by example as an inspiration for everyone to rise above and, in turn, ensure that others are afforded the same opportunities to succeed.

 “I want show that anything is possible when put your heart into it,” she said. “It’s important to keep dreaming. Dreams become reality.”

Amanda’s Poem for Special Olympics Northern California:

Northern California Pride

To Special Olympics Northern California, we rise.
We athletes we have won the prize. Not just in silver or gold.
Our stories have been told. Stories of defeat and discrimination. Stories of difficult situations.
The sports we play with so much heart, at each tournament we start with these words held in our hearts
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
Now athletes, let's have pride for all that we have overcome.

You do not need to win a medal to know that you are number one.

*Amanda’s Reflection on her Life Coaches at the Academy for Coaching Excellence in Sacramento:

“I wanted to mention specifically my relationship with two of my coaches: one my mentor Beth Ann and my other coach Jeremy. The two of them really stepped up to assist me throughout my journey of learning how to be a coach.

Beth Ann is so maternal and she really does care about supporting me and my goals and dreams.  I'm gaining a lot of wisdom from her teaching. I love that she is such a wonderful guiding light in my coaching journey. My other coach Jeremy, I've been on quite an adventure with him as well. His level of open-mindedness towards learning about autism or vision impairment has been phenomenal. He makes our conversation, surrounded around disabilities, easy listening. And his level of gentleness with me during some of the most vulnerable times as a coaching student has been extraordinary.”