The following post was written by Njegos and Andela, two Special Olympics Youth Leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!
Our goal as Youth Leaders was to assist our Program and our society by taking one step towards creating a better life for everyone. We think we have done it well.
Our overall objective was to fully include individuals with intellectual disabilities into our society. To do this, we planned and executed our project with the unreserved support of our Program staff.
At the very beginning, we decided that the best way of initiating full inclusion was to encourage schools, sports clubs, schoolkids, and athletes to understand and embrace the idea behind Special Olympics and Unified Sports.
The implementation of our project was divided into 2 stages:
The first stage was dedicated to organizing the round table with organizations’ managers. We faced an issue at very beginning of the project. The project funds started quite late and overlapped with the end of the school calendar, so we hurried to organize the round tables and prepare events which were to take place after the summer vacation. That turned out to be a good decision and it allowed us to prepare and execute other planned activities properly. The round table was organized on June, 12th 2019 where representatives from a kindergarten class called “Bubamara”, an elementary school named “Mokro”, an elementary school named “Pale”, a high school centre named “Pale”, the Association for Helping Children & Youth with Special Needs named “Sunce”, and the welfare centre all participated. All of our contact with sports clubs were informal. During the round table and informal meetings we agreed on all our activities for the future so we started successfully.
Also, this period was used to purchase the first equipment. We bought 7 footballs, 2 basketballs and 3 athletics starting blocks. These purchases were made to satisfy the needs expressed by our participants at the round table and our contact with the sports clubs.
The second and more important stage covered workshops and activities with participants:
The first activities were two workshops for future volunteers and Youth Leaders on August 23rd and 26th, 2019. 24 youth participants were present for both events. We conveyed the idea behind Special Olympics to them and trained them to play by Unified Sports rules.
We distributed a few practical handouts with the youth at the main town square (how convenient that the name of the square is the Olympic Square).
The other workshops went excellent since participants understood and accepted the idea and were eager to jump in.
On September 6th, we held our first sports workshop together with the athletics club called “Romanija” and the ski club called “Romanija”, and at the city gym named “Peki”. Overall, there were 44 participants who became familiar with the mission and rules of Unified Sports. Mr. Njegos and Ms. Andjela held training together with Mr. Radomir Kapor and Mr. Predrag Kovacevic (sports clubs trainers). The sports clubs were given 3 footballs and one athletic starting block for their participation.
Then on September 12th we visited the high school centre called “Pale” and promoted Unified Sports. While we were there 24 participants were present and we gifted 2 footballs and a basketball to the school.
On September 13th we held the Unified gym class in the elementary school named “Srbija”. There 24 participants were also present, including a caretaker for a child with disabilities. We gave this school 2 starting blocks.
Finally, we visited the elementary school called “Mokro” on 25th September. We awarded them with 2 footballs and a basketball.
All workshops introduced participants to the rules and mission of Unified Sports and trained participants in practice. We made sure that all workshops were inclusive by inviting individuals with and without intellectual disabilities. We also offered refreshments and promotional materials (pencils, notebooks, t-shirts and 3 banners for 3 schools) to all participants at every event.
As a direct result of our endeavors, our new Youth Leaders organized 2 events and spread out mission to include with our support and the support of partner organizations (the “Sunce” Association and World Vision BiH). The Youth Leaders organized and played at the events. The first event was on the Day of Youth (26th August). The second one was on the Day Without Cars (22nd September).
All the activities led us to sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Special Olympics’ Unified mission and rules.
As a result, 3 schools and 2 clubs committed themselves to conduct regular inclusive activities and became Unified Championship Schools and Unified Sports Clubs.
Additionally, Mr. Njegos came up with idea to participate in the Jahorina Trail Contest in order to promote Special Olympics at the event. That helped us to establish new connections with other sports clubs and organizations so we could promote Unified Sports.
We are both excited that our project was accepted.
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.