The following post was written by Alfonso and Sandra, two Special Olympics Youth Leaders from El Salvador. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!
For me it was very important to develop a project with my unified partner Alfonso Mata. While we were planning our project together he expressed his ideas and I expressed mine. I had worked on projects in my school but this time it was special to me. I met Special Olympics in the national games and I liked it but this was the first time that I was able to get so involved. Agreeing to take on the project was very easy and because of our project I am interested in being able to meet more people with intellectual disabilities through sports.
While we were working on our project we got a lot of support from our community. It was easy for us to enter schools and educational centers to make calls, get permits, and rent equipment. When we needed help finding a place to hold our event, pool management helped us at the program office. During our events, everyone attended each swimming session on time and we were happy to see how everyone was integrated in relay competition. We also really enjoyed working with the nutritionist to prepare talks on topics we found interesting. We welcomed everyone to the talks so that they would be inclusive and interactive.
We are very satisfied to have met the goals, but above all, to see a true integration between young people with and without disabilities. Because of our experience we can affirm that sports create inclusive spaces and that you can learn to socialize in a different way without prejudice.
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.