Updated: Feb 26
The following post was written by Angela and Ksenia, two Special Olympics Youth Leaders from Russia. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!
During September 24 – 28, 2018 Unified Partners from Moscow took part in the Global Youth Leadership Forum held in Azerbaijan, Baku. The forum brought together over 200 guests representing 45 countries. During the five days, the delegates from different countries discussed the subject of inclusion, finding solutions to help people with intellectual disabilities adapt and integrate themselves into the modern world. It was not an easy task for sure.
The final stage of the global forum was the presentation of the project devoted to the development of inclusive sports and its promotion in different parts of the world. The Russian delegates were part of this promotion, particularly — Angela Kolyadina and her partner — Ksenia Sokolova. The two presented their project for the development of inclusive sports in Moscow.
Angela Kolyadina is a current Special Olympics World Games champion in football. The two decided to make a project to develop Unified football Moscow schools. Football is considered to be one of the most popular sports in Russia and it’s quite adaptable, making it a good sport to start Unified Sports programs with.
They were able to present their Project at the Youth Global Forum and get a grant for it. The Moscow Lyceum “Stupeni”, one of Moscow’s private schools, was chosen as the pitch for holding a Unified football tournament. On the eve of the International Children’s Day, on May 28, 2019, the Unified football tournament was held, in which about 100 youngsters took part.
The Special Olympics Russia athletes from Ivanovo, Smolenks, and Moscow Regions entered the pitch, and the pupils of the Moscow Lyceum “Stupeni” became their partners. The football tournament has become an important event in the life of pupils — they all gathered in the school yard to watch the game.
Angela Kolyadina and Ksenia Sokolova told the audience what the main purpose of Unified Sport is. The students did not remain indifferent - it was evident that many of the students are already ready to play in Unified football with new friends from Special Olympics Russia.
As a team, the pair set a goal for themselves to create a new Unified football team but in the end two teams were created. One consists of athletes aging from 9 to 13 years old, and the other from 14 to 17 years old.
For the first time, the participants entered the football pitch with the Special Olympics athletes to compete in an equal struggle. Of course, the main goal of a Unified match is not a reward. It is to give everyone the opportunity to express themselves in sport.
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.