Leading for Inclusion: Isabella and Kyriakos

The following post was written by Isabella and Kyriakos, 2019 Global Youth Leadership Summit Participants from Cyprus. Check out their experience at the Summit, and how they plan to#innovateforinclusion in their community!

My name is Isabella and I am writing on behalf of myself and my unified partner, Kyriakos. Kyriakos and I are youth leaders who represented Special Olympics Cyprus at the Global Youth Leadership Summit 2019 in Abu Dhabi.

I have been an active volunteer for Special Olympics Cyprus for five years and am a member of the local SO Cyprus Youth Committee. Kyriakos and I met on several occasions during our Special Olympics National Games in Cyprus, as well as at various events held by Special Olympics Cyprus. However, our friendship truly blossomed through our involvement on our local Youth Committee. Kyriakos has been part of Special Olympics Cyprus for over 10 years as an athlete, during which time he has participated in Unified Sports and the Youth Committee. We are both very determined youth leaders. We acknowledge that change is needed and by working together, we will be able to make a change and promote inclusion in Cyprus. We believe the Global Youth Leadership Summit was the perfect forum to develop leadership skills, form new ideas to promote inclusion in our country, and give us the boost of inspiration we needed.

During the Global Youth Leadership Summit, we participated in presentations and workshops. The presentations and workshops taught us valuable leadership and project management skills, which we will now use to further improve ourselves as Youth Leaders. We also had the opportunity to listen to new ideas from participants from different countries. This broadened our horizons and opened our minds to new ways of working towards higher levels of inclusion in our country.

The Summit was spectacular! Being in a room filled with Youth Leaders from all over the globe truly inspired us. The amount of support was outstanding and gave us an additional feeling of security and hope. The Global Youth Leadership Summit 2019 in Abu Dhabi created an invaluable opportunity for us to make new friends across the globe. These new friendships have further inspired us. Knowing we are all working towards a common goal to lead the Unified Generation gives us a sense of security and the spirit of team work. Spending time with Youth Leaders from around the world gave me a new perspective and reminded me of the power of youth. I was also reminded that love and respect are the most powerful and motivating sentiments.

Kyriakos spent time with many other international youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities. This gave him a sense of belonging and the feeling of being a part of something bigger than himself. He was very happy and developed his social skills. He discovered his capabilities and realized that he is more powerful than he thought. He really evolved throughout these days.

We returned to Cyprus full of joy and serenity in our souls with unforgettable memories. We are grateful for having the opportunity to acquire various skills, gain ideas, and create memories. We now feel more driven and determined than ever. We will use this energy to implement our project, promote inclusion in our country, and help the athletes walk into society empowered. Most importantly, as more experienced youth leaders, we are committed to help others in becoming youth leaders and joining the Unified Generation.

The 2019 Global Youth Leadership Summit was supported through partnerships with The Lane Family, Kantar, the Lions Clubs International Foundation, The Samuel Family Foundation, and the Office of Special Education Programs at the United States Department of Education. Learn more about the other participants of the Global Youth Leadership Summit atsogyls2019ad.org/participants.

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