Updated: Jan 6, 2020
The following post was written by Nini, 2019 Global Youth Leadership Summit Participant from China. Check out her experience at the Summit, and how she plans to#innovateforinclusion in her community!
I am Nini, a senior student at Wenzhou Medical University, and I have been a youth partner since 2016. Last year, I created a Special Olympics Club on my campus by organizing a group of students from different departments. Despite studying different subjects, all of the students have the same enthusiasm to promote the mission of Special Olympics. We are doing our utmost to create a more inclusive society.
My good friend, Weile, is a student in the Wenzhou Special Education School. He is a skillful soccer player and runner, and is interested in plenty of sports. The first time I met him, he was shy and spoke with a lisp. It was difficult for me to understand what he was saying. However, I was touched by his warmth and consideration.
Our mentor is Xianping, a special teacher with rich experience. She always provides us with lots of valuable advice on our Unified activities. Her insight, wisdom, and encouragement were sources of support and helped us implement our plan smoothly.
After a long way home from the Global Youth Leadership Summit, I had time to review the photos and videos taken there. I couldn’t get all of the memories from them. Just like my friend from Indonesia once said, “You won’t be able to send me photos, because my memory is full.” It was clear to me that these five precious days were filled with emotion.
The increasingly impressive performance and growth of the Special Olympics athletes was unbelievable. They spoke freely in front of groups and were willing to raise their hands high to share their feelings about yesterday and expectations for today. It didn’t take long to find that each one of them was filled with encouragement, confidence, and kindness.
We came to learn more about inclusive youth leadership and to think about what meaningful involvement meant to us. Equality, respect, and inclusion were the most frequently used words. However, inclusion was not only found in the workshops, youth circles, and project halls. It was found in the opening ceremony, sports, cultural night, and tours. We cheered for the Chinese Taipei-Luxembourg Unified Basketball Match and danced together to the melody of the music.
I realized that it’s our inclusive youth leaders’ obligation to influence more people to join Special Olympics. Special Olympics athletes each have a unique sparkle. Some have been revealed, and some are waiting to be discovered. All these individuals need is the opportunity to reach out to society. This is where we can help. As Dr. Tim Shriver said, WE ARE THE PRESENT!
I enjoyed the Global Youth Leadership Summit because I met such a great group of like-minded people. We share the passions of working together to reduce discrimination and prejudice and to make life better for all. Although saying goodbye was painful, I believe that we will all meet again through Special Olympics — the organization that gave us the chance to meet.
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 at sogyls2019ad.org/participants.