Holding the Key to Change

Omphemetse is a Special Olympics Youth Leader from South Africa who is looking forward to “introducing a new Special Olympics South Africa sport aimed specifically at encouraging female participation” for her Youth Innovation Project. Because Omphemetse is based in an area that she believes will “seriously benefit from increased Special Olympics programming,” she hopes that she can promote inclusion in her community.


Specifically targeting the female population, Omphemetse plans to introduce netball, soccer and volleyball. Omphemetse currently plays netball and soccer and is keen to get other female Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners involved. She also currently coaches her school netball team and is employed as an assistant to the sports coordinator at the school. Her role as assistant sports coordinator has allowed her to become involved with the Unified male soccer team at the school. That is why Omphemetse believes that she is “perfectly positioned to introduce and encourage Unified Sports at her school.”


But Omphemetse does not want to stop with her own school. She has also identified another special education school close to her own in which she would like to expand the sports that she will be offering for female participation. Her goals are to have “2 active special education schools and 2 active partner schools and to offer Unified in all 3 sports.” Omphemetse believes that she can do this by including other stakeholders in the project and by engaging “community leaders, innovative youth and other youth programs in the Region.”


As an athlete with intellectual disabilities herself, Omphemetse is most excited that “during the course of the project, people will be able to dispel the negative connotations they have on people with intellectual disabilities” when they see how she will successfully execute her goals. Omphemetse believes that as part of the Unified Generation, she is the “key to change.” To her, if the change in perception toward people with intellectual disability “is not done by us…no one will do it for us. If we are Unified, then we are able to change the world to a better place for all, where all people are respected and treated equally.”