Innovators of the Week: Isaac and Barbara

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

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

It felt good to be part of a big national event hosted by the First Lady and the Chefs Association of Zimbabwe. Supported by our Youth Innovation Grant from Special Olympics, this initiative was an innovative way to get our communities to change their attitudes towards people with intellectual disabilities.

We are very appreciative of the Chefs Association who gave us the opportunity to create Unified teams in high schools so we could foster inclusion through cooking. The Unified teams went through a culinary arts skills training at One Accord Hospitality School under the tutelage of Olympic Bronze Medalist Chef Gonzo. The Chefs Association of Zimbabwe partnered with us and gave us an opportunity to bring about inclusivity to the competition.

Indeed meaningful relationships were built between participants from different schools during the culinary skills training session. Meal planning, serving suggestions, and food terminology were taught during the training. Not only did we sharpen our culinary skills, but embraced our cultural diversity while wrestling the negative effects of cultural diffusion.

We used culinary arts as the center of this event in order to achieve the 3 “E’s” – “Educate”, “Entertain”, and “Exhibit”. The competition was split into 6 categories. Our first category “Cooking Competitions” and it was split into three stages: schools, tertiary, and chefs. Next we had “Celebrity Cook-Offs” where we hosted artists, radio personnel, and actors. We also had a cook-off between the ministers, a chef-led cook-off with the audience, and live demos with each of the provinces. Finally, we featured international chefs from Indonesia, China, Japan, France, Italy, India, and several who served as our local representatives.

Along with the competing teams, other learners were invited to attend the festival to cheer on their colleagues as well as learn from other cultural exhibitions at the event. Learners got to appreciate efforts put in by their peers and the diverse cultures present at the event.

My life will never be the same again after this encounter and I have learned a lot through playing Unified and advocating for an inclusive world. #InclusionRevolution!

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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