This post was written by North Carolina Physical Educator, Jason Amy, during the 2017 Global Unified Youth Exchange in China.
In 2016, China visited North Carolina in a exchange program to collaborate on the Unified movement. I recently had the opportunity of being a member of the North Carolina representatives to visit China for the 2017 Global Unified Youth Exchange. I’m proud to say that the North Carolina and China youth leaders bridged the gap of spreading positive knowledge of the importance of working together to achieve lifelong success during our time spent together.
We had opportunities to visit people like Shyi Pan from SOHO, leaders of AmWay of China, and many outstanding educators that are promoting and mainstreaming new methods of Unity for students with and without disabilities. Our delegation of North Carolina and China leaders grew into a family by using a variety of group activities that embraced collaboration and leadership within ourselves to become more unified. Through our 10 day journey, the youth were empowered and learned that when students with and without intellectual disabilities unite, anything can be achieved.
One of the Special Olympics athletes from North Carolina, Jack, truly inspired me to become the best I can be. He spoke in front of large groups of people about his views of leadership qualities and his point of view on a daily basis. I was taken away by his comments of positivity and reassured Jack that his leadership is what the world needs to make this a better place. This was demonstrated through all of our Unified Pairs, but Jack always found a way of being the messenger of positive leadership and caused me to do a lot of self reflection.
This trip to China was an opportunity of a lifetime because I learned a lot about what Unified truly means. In various cultures, disabilities are simply a hurdle that just take a little passion and faith to understand and embrace.
The inclusion and integration of students with and without disabilities can open our minds and hearts to promote inclusion for a more positive society. I found that my disability was the inability of working harder to promote unified sports as a tool for a more inclusive society. This trip made me want to challenge myself to lead and inspire others to join me in working at a higher quality among our Special Olympics Unified Movement.
All to often in life we pass judgments without ‘knowing’ who people truly are. I learned that by working together as a team whether it’s a language barrier, disability or a cultural difference we achieved Unity through respect and cooperation. I hope this message inspires others to want to try something new and join together for a more Unified world for our societies.