If you’ve ever wondered about the power of unified sports, then you’ll definitely want to read this fantastic blog post from Jared Niemeyer. Jared is a 20 year old athlete from Special Olympics Missouri and has been involved with Special Olympics for almost 11 years. He is also on the National Youth Activation Committee, serving as a great example of youth leadership in action.
Playing sports is a great way to meet people and make new friends!
No matter who you are or what you like doing – you can almost always find a sport that you can enjoy! Even people with lots of different abilities can play together and get to know one another by working together! You can have fun, encourage each other, laugh together, and work hard together to become a team. This getting to know other people is really important, because you learn to care for each other as you spend time together.
One of my most amazing Special Olympics moments was when my high school baseball team (I am the team manager) came to my SO area event to cheer on our SO team! These guys came just because they are my friends and they care about how our school SO team did! It was so cool to see my baseball team there just to cheer us on! The coaches came too and the next year the team brought signs of support for us!
If we hadn’t participated in sports together they wouldn’t have known about what we do in Special Olympics! Now our school has more SO unified partners and more of our classmates know who we are because we play sports together! We’ve gotten to know one another and now care about each other – we’re friends!!
Being on a sports team together lets us meet classmates, their families, and do more community activities together. We’ve become friends with our teammates; spent time together, our families have become friends and everyone in our community had found out that having a disability doesn’t make us different from them. As more people find out that we are just like them – we have more opportunities and are included in more things. Sports help everybody learn that people in Special Olympics aren’t any different than they are.
Sports can be FUN for EVERYONE!