The following post was written by Jorge and Maria, two Special Olympics youth leaders from Brazil. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!
I’m very proud of being part of this project, this opportunity made an immense change in the perspective of how my friends used to see me and other children with intellectual disabilities just like myself. We are being treated better and being seen with through new eyes. Thanks to all effort we put into this as a team.
Judo is very important to me and it took me beyond my expectations. Now I’m a leader and example to all my friends in the community and now that they know that everyone can learn Judo, everyone wants to participate. The most amazing moments to me was when I taught new leaders during these 6 months and on the day of the belt examination when I was able to see my friends receive their new belts with me. We had so much fun together and we were so happy, I can tell that the whole community was very proud that day as well because they saw that through Judo we can change our future. Today all youth with and without intellectual disabilities are special and we all can enjoy the benefits that Judo can bring.
I have no words to describe how incredible the experience was of meeting so many new people - I have met so many strong and amazing people! And that’s what I want to see happening more and more. We formed great new leaders throughout the 6 months, and the numbers will not stop there - we must pursue this dream. In fact, we are obtaining success each and every day, the key is to never give up - never give up on trying and never stop believing - that’s what they taught us in the Youth Summit in Abu Dhabi and that’s what it’s inside the Judo philosophy as well. One of my biggest examples is Jorge Adriano, he showed me and everyone else that we must never give up, even if we face hardships or prejudice of people around us - giving up is not an option. Today Jorge can manage a group of students by himself as a leader and he can teach them everything he knows about judo and leadership. He’s been through many difficulties along the way and had thought of giving up many times but he didn’t. I have been there too and I’m sure that any person would think the same given the setbacks and disappointments of life but we never gave up, we kept fighting. That’s how life is and that’s what makes us grow up every day - we must never abandon our dreams.
This project was very important to me, it strengthened me even more. Our ideas and made us even more willing to fight this battle and we’ll never stop fighting - we are going to move forward and make this even bigger. I would like to thank everyone involved, each and every person who made this possible.
The 2018–2019 Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant initiative is supported through partnerships withHasbro, Inc.,The Samuel Family Foundation, theOffice of Special Education Programsat the United States Department of Education, theStavros Niarchos Foundation, theKantar Group, theMicrosoft Corporation,Lane Global Youth Leadership, and theLions Clubs International Foundation. Learn more about these inspiring projects atSpecialOlympicsGlobalYouthProjects.org.