Project UNIFY at the GYAS

The 12 U.S.-based youth leaders who attended the Global Youth Activation Summit, each had the opportunity to experience, learn and activate with their peers from around the world. Now, they’re motivated to take what they learned in Greece and create stronger communities of acceptance and respect in their home cities and states. Below some of the PU youth share their experiences and their goals for the future! Pretty inspiring stuff!

Sarah Holleman, partner, North Carolina:
At the Youth Summit I have learned that we all have different ways, new ideas, talents, but most importantly we bring this together to create a world of acceptance and respect through Special Olympics. This was truly the experience of a lifetime and wishing it didn’t fly by so fast! All of the sessions definitely wowed me with all the ideas and experiences others had and I also loved hearing them be explained in their language because I have NEVER heard so many different languages spoken in one place! I now plan to share the ideas I got from this experience with the North Carolina YAC. I would love to do a Red Laces campaign at my school.  I want to create a PSA, but not sure what it will say yet. I plan to come up with some new fundraiser ideas based on some of the ideas I heard while in Greece. All I know is I plan to stay active and push my hardest to make a difference and I will be a part of the change in this movement.

Daniel Fink, GYAS Youth Facilitator, Alaska:
It was great meeting everyone and sharing so many great experiences in Greece!  In the past few months I know all the delegations have done lots of work preparing for the GYAS and as one of the four facilitators I was more than impressed with the preparedness and level of quality in all the presentations that were presented throughout our two weeks together.  We covered many important topics relating to specific Special Olympics initiatives and youth leadership as a whole and I am excited to see all the amazing projects and action plans that will come into fruition after our hard work in Greece!

At our last world games in Boise, ID, I was an attendee just as many of you were in Athens and now I have been blessed to help lead this past GYAS.  Throughout the two years between the summits I have witnessed an extensive improvement in the dedication and leadership of youth from around the world among all levels of Special Olympics.  In Greece I could not have been more impressed with the true international youth feel that we had.  We had youth from 30 countries from around the world that were eager and willing to share their experiences and learn from those around them.  Hearing so many different languages and perspectives really added to my experience because I felt that we really encompassed a unified team of youth from around the world.  While some people were worried about the language barrier, I can attest that while it may have been hard at times to understand a foreign language, the energy and level of accomplishment was unbelievable.

For me one of my favorite parts was our Cultural Sharing night.  After a few days of being together as a group and learning more about each other I felt the energy in the room while people were sharing a part of their culture was fantastic.  From singing and dancing to yodeling and wrestling we truly had a remarkable night of fun and entertainment.  The energy present that night echoed throughout the conference when we were talking about the future of the youth movement and our ideals for what would take place in the next few years.  The universal appeal to improving school programs and pushing unified sports was another positive outlook I saw.  Going back to Alaska and then back to school in Washington I have a new desire to grow the unified sports movement and share the joy of Special Olympics with as many people as I can.

Tanealya Hueth, GYAS Youth Facilitator & athlete, Montana
My experience at the Global Youth Activation Summit as a youth facilitator and leader in Greece was a big responsibility. I was responsible for making sure everyone was on time and that the Summit participants wrote blogs about their experience in Greece. My experience as a facilitator was great – I got a lot of positive comments back from everyone. Daniel Fink and I got to interview athletes and I also got to work with Tim Shriver as well which was fun. The whole Shriver family came to our meeting and they talked about Eunice Kennedy Shriver and how she started Special Olympics. They told us to get back on the playing field, never let our team down and keep our heads held high.

Tyler Calabrese, partner, Nebraska
To celebrate the energy and excitement of the Global Youth Activation Summit, Tyler put together a video documenting his experience in Greece.

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About Rebecca

Manager of Youth Leadership for Special Olympics Project UNIFY. I hope to share with you lots of great stories about our youth leaders, school programs and other amazing things we're doing here at Special Olympics.

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