Inclusion Leads to High Fashion in Cote d'Ivoire

Leila and Akanvou are Special Olympics Youth Leaders from Cote d’Ivoire who are excited to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in their home country through their Youth Innovation Project. Through their project, Leila and Akanou plan to start a “Fashion Special Olympics” event in their community. They hope to “facilitate the real integration of people living with an intellectual disability” into the show by including students and models with and without intellectual disability. To promote unity, each model will wear the same style of clothing according to the category of the runway looks. There will be professional and amateur models as well as stylists to create an event that will bring recognition, acceptance and integration.


Leila and Akanvou intend to bring their message of inclusion to as many as they can, including at least 50 youth with and without intellectual disabilities in the fashion show and as many as 500 spectators from around Cote d’Ivoire.


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 Innovation Grant recipients from Cote d’Ivoire. Kamil says that Leila, Akanvou and their fellow youth leaders working on Fashion Special Olympics fashion show “know that people with intellectual disabilities are dynamic, very motivated, and very enthusiastic.” Leila and Akanvou want to create “Fashion Special Olympics” to share this knowledge and joy that surrounds people with intellectual disability with their community in Cote d’Ivoire and around the world.