The following post was written by Grecia and Alfonso, 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!
With this project, our main goals were to create new Unified Schools and, of course, to develop and train new Youth Leaders.
I am Grecia, a person with intellectual disabilities and I am also deaf. This was not an impediment to develop my project with my partner Alfonso.
I am Alfonso and I am extremely satisfied with everything we achieved in this project because we were able to unite schools that would never have thought of working together without us. I think our best initiative was that we tackled and reduced stereotypes. We had to reduce the execution time of our plan because of the school year, but we always met the same objectives. We worked as follows:
1. Identify schools to participate and request permission.
2. Train those involved and select participants (this was not a massive project, we wanted to know how to identify students’ skills and improve them).
3. Identify the companies that identify with the cause. Due to our relationship with the mayor's office, they helped us promote a fair in their facilities.
4. Collect the supplies necessary to develop the art with recycling materials.
To our surprise, we developed 2 exhibitions. This was because the participants were so enthusiastic that they carried out the work at recesses. They also wanted to continue working in their own facilities. This was very good because other students who were not in the project got to learn about Special Olympics. But above all, the teamwork between people with and without disabilities was so inspiring. I asked a person with intellectual disabilities what his opinion was because he seemed to care a lot about doing the work and he replied: "I want my part to be perfect for my Unified partner”. This marked my life because these people with intellectual disabilities understood the message of teamwork and belonging.
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.