2013 Special Olympics Global Development Summit – The Youth Voice

Clement Coulston and Rachel Ward, Global Youth Facilitators for the 2013 Special Olympics Global Youth Activation Summit participated in the inaugural Global Development Summit, which gathered 300 world leaders from areas of government, business, education, economic and social development, media and civil society.  These leaders convened in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea, on Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities.  Rachel and Clem were also panelists for a discussion that focused on the Transformative Power of One to Effect Change.


Change – the initiation, closure or alteration of a mindset, strategy, action, or belief.   What does this look and feel like to you?

At the 2013 Special Olympics Global Development Summit (GDS), Rachel Ward and myself were invited to be panelists focused on the topic of, The Transformative Power of One to Effect Change.

In organizing ideas on this topic, much of my thinking circled around the question, Why are Youth with and without disabilities vital for co-creating change in the community?  While I do not imply that there are only a few select answers to this question, I delved deeper through recollecting on my experiences with Project UNIFY and the momentous impact it has had on my growth as a value-based Inclusive Leader.

Youth with and without disabilities are…

  1. Developing Youth Activation Summits, strategizing and learning how to advance Social Inclusion in Schools;
  2. Engaging in Unified Sports where values of sportsmanship, teamwork, and joy are mutually shared amongst all;
  3. Celebrating and meaningfully incorporating the talents that each person has into the community, thus embodying the norm of Shared Leadership.

As the panel discussion progressed, our facilitator Cindy McCain asked Rachel Ward, if she was a mentor for others.  Rachel took some time to ruminate on the question and responded that that she was not sure.

Through working with Rachel the past seven-months as Global Facilitators co-designing 15-Youth Do Change the World Educational Sessions for the Global Youth Activation Summit, I have witnessed much progression on her public speaking confidence, ability to facilitate group discussions and strategic thinking in organizing engaging sessions.  Immediately, I posed how she IS a mentor for many people, especially for her friends back home in Delaware.  You could see Rachel beam with humbleness and pride for me confiding this in her.

My “ah-ha!” moment was how we can be quick to underestimate the power of partnerships. One can often think that partnership encompass two separate roles, that of: (1) A Learner and (2) A Teacher.  While these two ideals comprise the dynamics of a partnership, I advocate for us not to be fixed in only one role, but to take on both responsibilities as learners and teachers.  If we become stagnant in our position as solely a teacher, we are ousting vital components in partnerships, which are the feelings of value and genuine support for each other.

As a young person, I truly believe that we are the Leaders of Today, as we co-create CHANGE in the World – will you join us in advancing our Dignity Revolution for All!?

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