BALTIMORE (WJZ) — They’re used to being in the spotlight on the field. Now, some of Maryland’s finest Special Olympians are being trained in the sport of public speaking.

Every year, thousands of Maryland’s Special Olympians compete in more than a dozen different sports. Now, they’re teaming up to become better public speakers.

Carmen Houston-Ludlam is one of the athletes representing Special Olympics Maryland.

“When you are a global ambassador, you have more great emotions with that,” Houston-Ludlam said.

She and some of her fellow athletes are part of a training session in the Athlete Leadership Program.

“We teach our athletes how to write their own speeches and then practice the skills to go out into the community and present themselves and tell their story like no one else can,” said Jason Schrimi, V.P. of communications.

Special Olympics Maryland holds about eight sessions like this a year.

“Classes on being active in social media, how to be on a board, how to talk to the media,” said Schrimi.

“They’re leaders, and they have thoughts and opinions and they have things they want to share, and then we just help kind of draw that out for them,” he added. “That’s the whole value of the Athlete Leadership Program.”

It also helps build confidence and start new friendships.

“It gives good sportsmanship and good teamwork,” said weightlifter Thomas Smith.

There are more than 7,000 Special Olympic athletes in Maryland.

Special Olympics was founded by Eunice Kennedy Schriver, who fought for acceptance on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities.

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