Innovators of the Week: Ana Maria and Samuel

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

The following post was written by Ana Maria and Samuel, two Special Olympics Youth Leaders from El Salvador. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!

We wanted to carry out this activity with all of the families in our community but we realized that the time of families is sometimes very limited due to work and responsibilities. But if we managed to talk about the issue of disabilities with several parents it would be a very nice and enriching experience, even if we didn’t get to reach all of them. The families were very involved and were excited about how many of the educational challenges we were doing. While it is true that we could not work with all the proposed families, we managed to work with schools to encourage leadership through a Unified School because we proposed how we would like the whole school to be involved.

As a Unified School, we understood each other very well and we liked to work together because we agreed on ideas such as explaining intellectual disabilities to everyone. We also agreed that we wanted to do field activities while having fun teaching and playing. Sometimes our ideas were very lost and we did not know how to express what we wanted but in the end we succeeded and overcame our obstacles thanks to the people who supported us and helped us solidify our ideas. We did not give up on our project because we were very excited about it. We are so happy with our project that we want to make other projects in the future because completing this project gave us other ideas.

We intended to carry out our project outdoors, hosting a field day that would create trust and harmony among all the participants. It was very important to us to present them with a space to coexist and be free. The activity resulted in many fruits which fulfilled our objectives and everything that we had proposed. Above all, we were able to introduce the idea of intellectual disabilities to people who do not know what they were before. Our approach created coexistence, strengthened the bonds in our community, and sensitized people who did not understand individuals with intellectual disabilities, especially parents and young people.

I am very happy and motivated to continue helping and supporting Special Olympics projects and I really like when all the projects are aimed at young people.

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

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