In Russia, Unified Football Builds Inclusion
Ksenia and Anzela are Special Olympics Youth Leaders from Russia leading a Youth Innovation Project to bring opportunities for inclusive sport to their school through Special Olympics Unified football. Ksenia and Anzela are excited to host a Unified football match where students of their school and athletes from Special Olympics Russia will have the opportunity to compete side-by-side and create a new standard of inclusion. In September 2018, Ksenia and Anzela participated in the Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan and learned how to enhance the impact of their youth leadership and establish a plan to execute their project back home in Russia.
Ksenia is a student at Moscow Lyceum and believes that students on her campus will benefit from engaging in Unified activities. By leading the event, Ksenia and Anzela are hopeful they can engage more high school students in the Unified Generation in Russia and create more opportunities for social inclusion in their school and community. Before leading this project, Ksenia and Anzela met with the Director of the Lyceum and discussed their idea for the school to engage students of all abilities through Unified Sports. The Director encouraged Ksenia and Anzela to lead their project and hopes it will lead to a more inclusive atmosphere on campus. Anzela said, “When our friends and teachers understand that we can be friends [with Special Olympics athletes], I think some Special Olympics athletes will feel more comfortable coming to our school to play sports and be together.”
As part of their project, Ksenia and Anzela will also share information about recruitment, Unified football practices, and the Unified football match via social media networks and in-person engagement with friends and others. Through use of a variety of communication platforms, Ksenia and Anzela believe they will have a large turnout for their event and engage new individuals to participate in future Special Olympics activities.
Through this project, Ksenia and Anzela are committed to promoting friendship between Moscow Lyceum students and the athletes of the Special Olympics Russia. They hope they can educate team members and spectators of the Unified football match about individuals with disabilities and showcase the power of people of all abilities. With the leadership of Ksenia and Anzela, the Unified Generation continues to build communities of inclusion in Russia and around the world.