Unified Hiking Creates Attitudes of Acceptance

Sameer was named Innvator of the Week! Click here to hear more about his story and the impact he is making in his community. 


Ali and Sameer are Special Olympics Youth Leaders in Pakistan. Roshan joined the Special Olympics movement four years ago and has assisted in organizing events at his university, volunteered at different events, interned at the Special Olympics Pakistan office, and now serves as a coordinator for Youth Activation and Unified Schools, while Sameer has served as an intern for Special Olympics Pakistan for almost a year and is training to be a Special Olympics Athlete Leader. Together, Ali and Sameer of them have enjoyed playing badminton over the past few years and have a passion for overall health and wellness. Together, they will lead a Youth Innovation Project that will encourage Special Olympics participants in Pakistan to change their health habits and become physically active. To make exercise fun and engaging, Unified Hiking was born.


Ali and Sameer plan to divide the Unified Hiking project into two phases. The early weeks will focus on engaging in “Fit 5” sessions of targeted physical fitness activity to prepare participants for physical activity. Participants will do Fit 5 sessions four days of the week; and on the fifth day, the Unified team will travel to nearby trails to prepare and practice for the longer Unified Hike. After a few weeks of training, Ali and Sameer will lead a Unified Hike and invite participants with and without intellectual disabilities from Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other nearby cities to participate. At this event, there will be activities for participants, photo opportunities and refreshments for participants with and without intellectual disabilities to connect as friends. Not only will it serve as a way to create connection and community, but information will also be shared about Special Olympics for others to learn more about the organization.


Ali and Sameer believe that the power of inclusion derives from the spirit of Special Olympics athletes. They created a slogan for their hike, “Keep Up!” which invites a friendly competition for those who sign up for the hike to keep up with the Special Olympics athletes and Unified Hiking team. To Ali and Sameer, being part of the Unified Generation is a world where everyone is understood for who they are and means “accepting people because of what they’re good at and letting them excel at it by whatever means necessary.”