Updated: Apr 29
The following post was written by Ni Che, a Special Olympics Youth Leader from China. She makes it her mission to strengthen inclusion in her community. Check out how she #innovateforinclusion!
I’m glad that my Innovation Grant project has been successfully completed. I am also very grateful for the support of our mentors and the efforts of all our youth partners and volunteers.
During the implementation of my plan, we trained volunteers before every activity to make it go smoothly. Through our efforts, a total of 251 volunteers gradually learned about Special Olympics, 48 of which were trained in health screening during the Healthy Community and Family Health Forum. But we had some challenges. For example, our Special Olympics Cinema didn’t take place as expected because lots of university students prefer to spend their spare time on other recreational activities rather than watching an educational movie at a fixed time and place. So we changed this plan by sharing some posters, stories, photos, and videos on some social platforms to increase engagement with our audience. By doing so, the number of views we received reached 3,794. The article about the Unified athletes and me was even read by more than 9,500 people. It’s amazing that so many people are caring about us and support us! In total, we had 138 partners and 54 volunteers participate in our Unified Sports from June to December. We were also pleased that 12 doctors from different clinical departments joined our team. We also invited one doctor to teach more than 50 parents how to keep their children fit. We are so happy to see our team become stronger!
At the end of each activity, we interviewed some of our youth partners and volunteers about their feelings. After listening to their words, I realized that Special Olympics truly has the charm to attract them to participate next time and the participants were moved by the kindness and warmth of the athletes. After just one activity, my friend camera was filled with photos of smiling faces. It means more and more people would know what Special Olympics is and how we work to decrease discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. What’s more, we are not surprised to see the growth of the Special Olympics athletes. Even though they were too shy to greet our youth partners and volunteers at first, by the end they were willing and dance in front of everyone.
What impressed me most was the 4th day of Unified Sports, which was our first activity in the community. While we were preparing for the event we faced several challenges, such as safety, finding a location, and transportation. With the help of Special Education School, we finally had a successful event planned. We put their works on display to the public, which attracted people of all ages. Our small step within our community is a big step towards reducing discrimination in all of society as well as increasing attention to such groups. Last but not least, it’s beneficial for Special Olympics athletes, youth partners, and the community to achieve inclusion in relatively short period of time.
To me, being a part of global Unified Generation means being responsible, achieving our mission, and creating a better future. We couldn’t have done the project without our helpers — most of the project was planned and implemented by them. When I graduate, two more Youth Leaders will take my place to do more innovative and long-term work to help our athletes integrate into society.
The 2018–2019 Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant initiative is supported through partnerships with Hasbro, Inc., The Samuel Family Foundation, the Office of Special Education Programs at the United States Department of Education, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Kantar Group, the Microsoft Corporation, Lane Global Youth Leadership, and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Learn more about these inspiring projects at SpecialOlympicsGlobalYouthProjects.org.