The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be held in Seattle and King County during the first week of July, and – in addition to being a public partner of the games – King County is proud to have employees participating!
Jonathan Leckband, Office Assistant with the Department of Transportation, is one of the employees who will be competing in the games. He is a soccer player who will be representing the State of Washington during the Seattle- and King County-hosted games. More than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing each state and the District of Columbia will compete in 14 team and individual sports. The opening ceremony takes place July 1 at Husky Stadium, and the soccer team will compete July 2-5.
Jonathan is a North Seattle native who has been playing soccer for 33 years. He brings a lot of experience to the games, including preparing for and participating in similar games during high school, and keeping active in extracurricular opportunities like those offered by Kent Parks and Recreation. “I’m excited! This will be my first time playing at this level,” Jonathan said. “There will be more than 4,000 athletes at the games. I’m looking forward to the chance to show how good our team is. This will also be a chance to demonstrate sportsmanship, and maybe make new friends.”
Jonathan recently joined King County Transit, providing administrative support to Operations and Human Resources, after working for District Court for 17 years. Employment Consultant Meghan Spellman, Jonathan’s job coach from Highline College Employment Services, has been working with him during his transition to his new position. “It has been amazing to see Jonathan grow both professionally with his new job and personally with this great opportunity to participate with Special Olympics,” said Meghan. “He has truly worked very hard with his team so that they are as ready as possible for the USA Games. The support Jonathan has been given from King County and his supervisors has allowed him to thrive and grow.”
In addition to being great to work with, Jonathan’s managers Jessica Carter and Abdi Elmi also supported his opportunity to participate in the games. “We worked out a schedule together and my colleagues have been very supportive of me as I’ve prepared.” said Jonathan.
The USA Games showcase the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities and the impact of Special Olympics through world-class competition, inspirational experiences, and modeling inclusion for all.
That is the mission of the USA Games, and it is much like our own King County goal of seeing both our employees and those we serve have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. “It is great to see Jonathan recognized both for his contributions to King County and as an athlete competing in the upcoming games,” said Christina Davidson, King County Supported Employment Program Manager.
The Supported Employment Program matches qualified candidates with developmental disabilities to business needs within King County government. “Over the last three years, 14 supported employees have been hired into King County and I have consulted on 17 countywide recruitments,” said Christina. “This is the largest increase of new positions within the program since the 1990s and early 2000s.”
Adding value to the program, quality employment agencies provide job coaches, like Highline College’s Meghan Spellman, to support job candidates through their application process, onboarding, training, and retention of employment, as well as with ongoing career growth. King County teams are gaining awareness of and embracing the program. “DOT has become a big champion of Supported Employment, with Transit hiring four new positions over the past six months, and Roads hiring a new position in 2017,” said Christina. “A big Thank You to Transit and Roads leadership for their commitment in building an inclusive workforce!”
King County joins the State of Washington and the City of Federal Way as a Public Partner of the 2018 USA Games, and King County Metro has joined Sound Transit, Alaska Airlines, REI Co-op and others as a Bronze Medal Partner. In a joint effort with Sound Transit, King County Metro is an Official Transportation Sponsor of the 2018 USA Games. “We’re honored to do our part for the Games, and invite the athletes, families and volunteers to ride and enjoy our frequent and reliable transit services,” said King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. Additionally, King County HR representatives from Human Resources, Transit and Parks Divisions will be hosting a booth at the Special Olympics Job Fair July 5 and 6 at the University of Washington for athletics and the general public.
For more information, tickets, schedules and special events details, visit the Special Olympic USA Games website. In addition to event information, there are details on the site about a variety of ways to get involved and opportunities to volunteer. You may also nominate a game changer. If you know a person or a company that exemplifies what it means to be inclusive, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games wants to hear from you!