A Day at the Beach leads to a Lifetime of Inclusion

Marie Claude and Samira are Special Olympics Youth Leaders from Cote d’Ivoire who are excited to lead a Youth Innovation Project to organize inclusive recreational activities at the beach. This event will act as a meeting of acceptance and inclusion to enable groups of people with and without intellectual disabilities to relate to each other through the exchange of ideas and conversation, enlist new Special Olympics volunteers from participants and spectators…and enjoy the beach!


There will be many activities on this beach day that will all be Unified. Not only will there be volleyball games at the beach with teams made up of people with and without intellectual disability, but there will also be other active games such as a canoeing and kayaking. There will also be races, including a relay race and a race with Unified Pairs of students having their feet joined together in a bag. Also, Marie Claude and Samira’s Unified Beach Day will include creative activities such as a dance contest and a culinary competition. This variety of activities will encourage all students with and without intellectual disability to get involved and to enjoy the event.


Overall, Marie Claude and Samira hope that their Youth Innovation Project will engage the population of their community with the promotion of people with intellectual disability, promote Special Olympics volunteering, and raise awareness and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities in everyday life. But even more broadly, Marie Claude and Samira’s main goal is to “send a strong message toward people with intellectual disabilities that others can be accepting of their difference.”


The Youth Activation Coordinator of francophone countries in the Special Olympics Africa Region, Kamil Kouakou, has taken an active role in mentoring all of the Youth Innovation Project leaders from Cote d’Ivoire. He agrees with Marie Claude and Samira’s emphasis on inclusion, adding that he and the Special Olympics Youth Leaders of Cote d’Ivoire believe that “bringing people together through games, recreation and sports activities is a powerful means of sharing, acceptance and integration.”