A woman in a basketball apron smiles at the camera while holding a basketball.

Margaret Turley, one of ten new Sargent Shriver Global Messengers (SSGMs), represented Ireland in basketball at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023. Image source: Special Olympics Ireland.

In January 2024, this was announced Margaret Turleyfrom Kilkenny, Ireland, was to become one of the ten SSGMs for the period 2024 to 2027. She joined Gilmore Borg from Special Olympics Malta As one of two apostles who represent Special Olympics Europe and Eurasia Region. The SSGM is a prestigious and sought-after spokesperson that will see Margaret, Gilmore and the other eight delegates representing the Special Olympics movement and their fellow athletes to the world. Before Margaret travels to the USA, she took the time to answer some questions about her journey so far and her hopes for this new role and new adventure!

How did you find out the exciting news that you are one of the new SSGMs?
I found out the exciting news when… Special Olympics Ireland The team played a video of Tim Shriver announcing my success with my SSGM application.

Where were you, who were you with, and what was your reaction?
I was invited to the Special Olympics Ireland office with my family and friends, where a ‘meeting’ was organized to see if my application for the SSGM role was successful. I’ve been through a rollercoaster of emotions. At first, I was shocked and couldn’t believe I was chosen. Then I was emotional but very happy and excited to take on this new challenge.

A woman and a man in formal clothes shake hands in front of a screen with text on it

Margaret Turley greets former Irish Health Minister and current Taoiseach at her workplace, EY.

Photography by EY

What part of the SSGM role are you most looking forward to?
I am very much looking forward to seeing what other countries and Special Olympics programs are doing, what ideas they have and working with my colleagues at SSGM. Additionally, I am excited to represent and be a voice for athletes from Ireland and (along with SSGM colleague Gilmour Borg from Malta) Special Olympics Europe and Eurasia. I look forward to bringing the ideas and initiatives of my fellow athletes to the international arena and creating positive change for my colleagues.

In your opinion, why does SSGM play an important role in our movement?
The SSGM is an important role in the movement because it provides an opportunity for athletes to take on leadership roles and gives athletes a platform for their voices to be heard contributing to the changes and decisions made within the Special Olympics movement. This role instills confidence in SSGMs that they can advocate for themselves and their fellow athletes. It makes athletes feel like their ideas and opinions are validated.

How long have you been a part of Special Olympics and how has Special Olympics impacted your life?
I have been involved with Special Olympics since 2015. Special Olympics has impacted my life by providing me with a community where I can get fit and participate in sports. I have made lifelong friends through Special Olympics and have been provided with leadership opportunities through my role as a health messenger and athlete leader. These opportunities have increased my confidence and ability to advocate for myself and others.

Woman smiling at camera with text below reading

Margaret Turley was one of the champions featured in the recent My Decisions, My Rights public information campaign.

What has been your greatest Special Olympics moment so far?
My greatest moment in Special Olympics so far was when I represented Ireland at the World Summer Games in Berlin in June 2023. I was playing basketball with the Irish team, and we won gold in the women’s final against strong opponents. It was a proud moment with a sea of ​​green cheering us on from the stands. My family and friends were all in Berlin to support me. It was my first World Games, and I hope it won’t be my last!

Do you have any role models (inside or outside of Special Olympics)?
My brother and sister are my role models, when I was younger they would go to college and learn to drive. They pushed and encouraged me to follow in their footsteps. I didn’t want to be left behind. I was going to achieve things in my life as they achieved in theirs. So, I worked hard to go and study at Trinity College Dublin and learned how to drive a car and passed my driving test! I haven’t looked back. Now I continue to achieve accomplishments in my work and in Special Olympics. My brothers were so proud when I was selected as SSGM!


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