The following post was written by Kelly and Lex, two Special Olympics Youth Leaders from the Netherlands. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!
One of the most popular sports in our Special Olympics club is soccer. However, all of the teams for individuals with intellectual disabilities are for men. If a woman wants to play soccer she has to join the men’s team because there is not a women’s team. Therefore, we wanted to kick-start female competition around Tilburg by creating at least one women’s soccer team for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
I worked on my project at my school with the help of the local Special Olympics club. Luckily we not did have too many difficulties while preparing our project. However, one challenge I ran into during the project was keeping up with all of the students that were supposed to be at the fun park. The problem was that I had only the names of the students and I don’t have a picture of the faces from the students. Fortunately, by the end of the day I had seen the most of them and began to recognize them.
The organization did a lot to promote this event by posting about the event on the club’s website and their Facebook page. Advertising for the event also appeared on Dutch television, a news page called Editie NL, and a program called Johnny de Mol (a program for people with intellectual disabilities). However, our most successful form of advertising was posting about the event on social media. Before we even started our event we could tell that it would be successful because when we talked to people about it they were immediately excited about this event.
For me, the most impressive moment of our project was the grand opening of the tournament… it was great! The police and fire sirens were fantastic, it was very easy to see that the people were excited about them as well. During the sirens the Olympic fire was also brought into the event. I think this was also one of the most important moments for the players of the tournament as well.
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.