The following post was written by Andrea and Cristian, 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!
This is the first time I worked with an individual with an intellectual disability, and I realized there is always something to learn from others. When I worked with my partner, I realized how many skills and abilities we can discover from each other. The experience we had as Unified Partners was very gratifying. As we carried out our project, we realized that the next time we were going to lead an event, we would need a much larger outdoor space. There were so many young people that we want to join the inclusion revolution. In our project of leading Unified sports and recreational activities, everyone had a lot of fun! No matter the age of the people that participated, nor the conditions that each one presented, everyone had fun. We liked how everyone interacted and communicated. But, we would have liked the morning to be longer to continue our relay obstacles.
As Youth Leaders participating and leading the activities, we had the same tastes and interest for our ages, we could have a connection to establish our metrics, and we could establish our goals and we feel happy we achieved them by 90% . The inclusion revolution not only draws attention to young people like us, but we also saw the impact of learning from family’s testimonies and experiences. One of the most important parts of the movement is to include families that do not know about intellectual disability and to teach and highlight the abilities of all youth.
After participating in this rewarding experience, I would repeat it again and duplicate this in other schools. We would also like to meet other Youth Leaders from different countries to interact with them and collaborate on ways to grow inclusion. We would even like to take our project one step further and have the opportunity to educate other communities on the meaning of inclusion. As Youth Leaders, we want everyone to understand what we want, what we are capable of doing, and the importance of youth to embrace inclusion. If we start by planting the seed of inclusion in our schools and growing that seed to other places, little by little, we are excited to see a future full of inclusion. We appreciate the opportunity to be Youth Leaders and to become the voice of inclusion for more young people.
The 2018 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, and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Learn more about these inspiring projects at SpecialOlympicsGlobalYouth.org.