The following post was written by Tam and Chao, two Special Olympics youth leaders from Macau. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!
On March 3, 2019 Special Olympics Macau hosted the 2019 Youth Communion Basketball Tournament. This event was one of the key activities of the 2018 Special Olympics Youth Inclusion Program. The event theme was “PLAY UNIFIED”, which means the Community is “connecting.” This event gave young people in Macau more opportunities to interact with individuals intellectual disabilities through basketball competitions, to integrate and accept different kinds of people in the community, and to instill the concept of “health and disabled inclusion” in young people.
On the day of the event, my partner Ken Tam (Special Olympics Cadet) led the Inclusion Program with me and helped me give a speech about our experience as a Unified pair over past few months as well as our goals for the coming year. After our speech the Executive Director of Special Olympics Macau, Mr. Hetzer Sio, gave a speech before opening the Youth Communion Basketball Tournament with an official ceremony.
To complete our project we divided it into 5 steps. In Step 1 — “Recruit”, we recruited Unified partners in different schools in Macao. We were happy to have eight schools and youth organizations participate in this event. In Step 2 — “Training”, we had a training session before the event in order to train our players in how to be more skillful and powerful while playing basketball. This training program took place for around two months at the training venue in one of our Unified schools. I was glad to see all of the students working very hard in training because in the beginning most of them didn’t play basketball well. But through practice, I could see their improvement as they gained more skills. In Step 3 — “Promotion”, we attended a Basketball Fun Day to use our youth power to share the Unified message with the public. Lots of people of all ages came and participated in the activity. I was excited because I saw the public had happy faces and they were enjoying playing with people with intellectual disabilities — their response really touched my heart. After all of these preparation activities, we moved to Step 4 — “Show Time”. This was our big day of the project on March 3. This day was a stage for our students to show the results of all their hard work at our practices. They had an amazing performance playing basketball! They all showed their skills to the public and proved they could do it. I’m so proud of my students. After the event, we were finally in Step 5 — “Sharing”. As one of the Unified partners, I was invited to share my story with Ken in my secondary school.
I am very glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of this project. I hope more students with intellectual disabilities can show their abilities in different fields and that more people will participate in our Unified activities in the near future. I am also very thankful to have a lot of support from different schools, youth organizations, and Special Olympics Macau as they supported this event by sending their students to be athletes and volunteers in the project. Aside being a wonderful display of basketball techniques, the event also proved to be a demonstration of an inclusive culture.
To conclude, the “2019 Youth Inclusion Basketball Program” is led by the Unified partners of the Youth Inclusion Program. This program is also recognized by Special Olympics International. We believe that through this event more new international messages about “connection and inclusion” have been brought to Macau and that a harmonious and inclusive community will gradually be developed in the area. We believe we will have a better society with acceptance, great inclusion, and no discrimination.
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.