Over the last week or so, I’ve had the opportunity to follow the activities of youth leaders attending the Global Youth Activation Summit (GYAS). There have been many amazing moments as these youth learn more about leadership and activation; however, I was truly inspired during a particular session where the GYAS attendees went to the OAKA sports complex to watch and interview competing athletes.
One particular group from the United States — including Jordan Schubert, Allison Thomas, and Tanealya Hueth — was inspiring. Jordan has autism, but he also has an amazing affinity for picking up languages and he’s a fluent Spanish speaker. So instead of finding English speaking athletes to interview, this group targeted Spanish speaking athletes and used Jordan as their translator extraordinaire. Watching this group in action completely embodied the ideals of Special Olympics — recognizing the unique (and amazing) gifts that each individual has and not settling for what is easy, but striving to push yourself and excel.
Here’s what Jordan, Allison and Tanealya had to say following their interview with athletes from Venezuela:
“As a part of the Global Youth Activation Summit, we got the honor of interviewing the athletes participating in the World Games, and because we had our professional translator Jordan Schubert (not really a pro, but pretty close), the Spanish-English language barrier was not a problem. Two of the athletes we had the pleasure of interviewing were from Venezuela. Twenty-eight year old Clauida Barral will be participating in swimming. She is very excited to be a part of the World Games, and loves the pin trading. In Venezuela, she has participated in Special Olympics for the last nine years, and currently has a job. Her teammate, Javier Varela, enjoys everything from Athens, from meeting new people to competing for the gold. Javier has competed in Special Olympics for three of his thirty-one years of life. Ninety other people from his country are joining him at the World Games.
Javier and Claudia’s bubbly attitude lit up the venue. They were all smiles as we asked them questions in two very different languages. However, regardless of what language, all athletes competing in this year’s World Games share two things; they have shown lots of strength in their sport and always have a great attitude as they are compete in the biggest events of their lives. For us, that is one of the best things about the World Games and the Global Youth Activation Summit. Despite coming from different countries and different continents, we can all communicate and share our love for Special Olympics. We wish the best of luck to Claudia, Javier, and the rest of the athletes competing in the games.”