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Working on their victory speech - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Working on their victory speech

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Specials Olympians are learning the skills they need to succeed, both on and off the competition fields. Special Olympics Vermont is giving athletes the tools they need.

"I'm learning how to speak in front of an audience, how to talk in front of crowds under pressure and stuff like that," said Kyle Massie, a Global Messenger Trainee.

The Global Messenger's training is a part of the Special Olympics athlete leadership program. Each year, up to 20 athletes take part in the 5 hour training course.

"Athletes learn how to prepare speeches and speak publicly in different settings, and really gain the confidence to be self advocates for the movement of Special Olympics," said Justin Graham, Athlete and Families Coordinator.

Participants are then assigned to represent Special Olympics at events throughout the state. For the handful of athletes selected, it's all about learning and applying.

"I thought I would spread the word so that people can learn about Special Olympics that way they can get active, get fit and do the stuff they want to do," said Massie.

"This thing is kind of new to me, I've never done this before but I've been in the Special Olympics for so many years, since high school into my adulthood," said Caroline Gillen of Global Messenger.

Graham says it's programs like this that help break stereotypes and show the community what these athletes are capable of accomplishing.

"I think sometimes there's a stigma on the intellectual disability population, how sometimes they can be very dependent upon others...these athletes are very independent people," said Graham.

"It makes me feel confident..in the end its not about winning," said Gillen.

For these Global Messenger trainees it is about connecting with the community, well before they compete.

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