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Sarah stars as a volunteer

Congratulations to Elsternwick’s ECLC Co-Educator, Sarah Hamilton, Special Olympics Australia’s ‘2021 Young Volunteer of the Year’

Elsternwick’s ECLC Co-Educator, Sarah Hamilton, has been awarded ‘2021 Young Volunteer of the Year’ by Special Olympics Australia. As a carer for young athletes striving to take part in the Special Olympics, she supports a year-round multi-sports program for people with an intellectual disability to enable them to take part in robust sports competition.

With a family background in soccer, Sarah volunteered as an assistant coach for the Junior National Games in 2020. In this role, she recruited players and ran the training camp before Covid put a stop to everything.

Seeing a lack of leadership in the soccer program, she scoped, relaunched and took on the management of the program for the Melbourne Inner East Club in 2021. She researched suitable facility, equipment and uniform options, found a qualified coach and designed and launched a ‘Come and Try’ program.

It was highly successful, with the recruitment of 15 athletes who went on to join the Special Olympics.

Sarah has contributed to the significant growth of her club’s athletics program – so far there are over thirty participants this year. Her enthusiasm and support as an assistant coach at training ensures new athletes and their families feel welcome and is committed to creating opportunities for others.

‘These athletes deserve the same pathway as I did when I was growing up - participating in sport, having a community around them and having time to be social and build friendships,’ she says. ‘The opportunity to share and teach others and be part of their growth and success brings me a lot of joy. They also teach me strength, determination and a ‘just-keep-going’ attitude. Their gratitude and thanks are also extremely rewarding.’

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