Tom Casson: Transforming Lives through Sport
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Tom Casson, the leadership and enterprise development manager of Special Olympics GB. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Tom! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your organization?
Tom: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! Special Olympics Great Britain (GB) is a non-profit organization and the largest provider of year-round sports training and athletic competition in summer and winter sports for children and adults of ALL abilities who have intellectual disabilities, also known as learning disabilities. Special Olympics GB is so much more than just a sport organization—we genuinely transform lives. Through sport we provide opportunities for our athletes to make friends, learn social skills, feel part of a community, increase confidence and self-esteem, realize potential, develop physical fitness and mental well-being, demonstrate courage and experience joy and pride. And, above all, we provide a chance for both athletes and their families to have some FUN!
Spiffy: That is amazing! What motivates you to tackle this challenget?
Tom: My motivation is social change! The reason why I work for Special Olympics GB is that I am passionate about social impact and inclusion. I've worked alongside people with intellectual disabilities for nearly 15 years and strongly believe society can and should become more inclusive of the neurodiverse community. Employment rates of people with intellectual disabilities are and have been around 5% or 6% for about a decade, and I'd like to think I can contribute to improving that.
Spiffy: How would you describe the impact of your work?
Tom: At Special Olympics GB, we use sport as our main driver, but we are much more than that. In my role, I help put the scaffolding in place for our athletes to engage in meaningful opportunities that can demonstrate real change—whether that's upskilling our athletes in leadership training, supporting a corporate partner to become more inclusive, or working with our athletes on employability projects. Ultimately, I'd like the impact of my work to contribute to the wider society becoming more inclusive and valuing people with neurodiversity.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by you or your organization. What impact does that make?
Tom: We recently joined forces with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) to create a Christmas gift box campaign led by some of our athletes. The ‘Unified Business’ project brought together Special Olympics GB athletes and staff with volunteers from CCEP. The initiative saw three athletes, who also have thriving businesses, come together and showcase their skills to help develop, contribute products to, and successfully pitch the Christmas gift boxes, all with the aim of championing and raising awareness of the achievements and potential of people with intellectual disabilities. You can watch a video about the project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpabinF__50
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Tom: If you'd like to know more about Special Olympics GB then please head to https://www.specialolympicsgb.org.uk/
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Tom—it’s been an honor!
Tom Casson is the enterprise and leadership manager at Special Olympics GB. As a former teacher and co-founder of an assistive technology company, he is passionate about social impact and improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. (First published on the Ladderworks website on May 2, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.