Empowering Inclusive Volunteerism: A GG2023 Legacy Story

Virtus wishes all the volunteers a very happy International Volunteers Day!

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of all the Virtus events. Their dedication and selflessness play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of these grand spectacles. From assisting with logistics to running the event, volunteers provide invaluable support that allows athletes to shine and spectators to enjoy a seamless experience.

A total of 249 volunteers dedicated their time and energy, with a notable 110 of them having intellectual impairments and/or autism. This remarkable inclusion marks a significant step forward in the journey of employing individuals with intellectual impairments in Virtus events. Some of these volunteers were also retired athletes with intellectual impairments who were supported by the LOC (Local Organizing Committee) – French Federation Of Adapted Sport (FFSA) to thrive in their post-sport life.

This inclusive journey had its genesis during the 2018 Summer Games in France when the FFSA introduced individuals with disabilities into voluntary roles to help run the event. These volunteers, some registered with medical or social institutions, while others participated independently or accompanied by relatives, proved that with a little support, they could contribute meaningfully to the event.

Talking about this wonderful practice, the president of FFSA, Marc Truffaut said,

“FFSA was thrilled by the positive outcomes from the 2018 volunteers programme and sought to further integrate individuals with disabilities into event organizing, making it a part of their 2022-2025 federal project. This project focuses on shared legacies between the 2023 Global Games and the 2024 Paralympic Games, with a specific emphasis on involving people with disabilities in event organization.”

The road to inclusion involved extensive communication and support. Video information meetings were held, followed by ongoing email and telephone correspondence to reassure and aid the volunteers in their experience. Many volunteers came with their institutions, often with a professional accompanying them. These medical professionals were thoroughly briefed, equipping them with essential information about the event and their roles. On-site, the volunteers’ immediate supervisors took charge of their training and preparation.

Photo Credit: T.NGUYEN

The volunteers with intellectual impairments and/or autism took on a range of roles, including welcoming spectators, ticket checking, technical support to run events, acting as signallers during road cycling events, contributing to sustainable development initiatives, assisting with catering, working in the event merchandise shop, and helping with equipment setup and removal, as well as accreditation and welcome bag preparation for athletes.

Efforts are being made by FFSA to include people with intellectual impairments as volunteers at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, which can open new opportunities for people with intellectual impairments.

The legacy of GG2023’s volunteer program extends beyond the event itself. It is a testament to the power of inclusion, the strength of collective effort, and the transformative impact of individuals who selflessly dedicate their time and skills to make these sporting events truly extraordinary.

Their contributions, often behind the scenes, are a testament to the power of collective effort and the importance of community in the world of sports.