During the week of September 2nd to September 5th 2013, Special Olympics Project UNIFY® youth leaders shared their experiences, insights and strategies with students, educators, parents and the community using social media. Student Voice, a recent initiative formed to activate the student voice through building community and opportunity, provided Special Olympics the opportunity to educate their supporters about the power of our work. Student Voice hosted a Twitter Chat and a Google+ Hangout on the topic of Special Olympics Project UNIFY.
Youth Leaders participated as panelists on a Google+ Hangout and decided to co-create a Memory Sheet to reflect on the experience. Each leader shared his or her Special Olympics sports involvement, three insights from the conversation and a quote of wisdom for us to consider!
I participate in Track and Field (Coach), Long Distance Running (Coach/Mentor), and Bowling (Unified Partner).
- Unexpected obstacles often offer the opportunity to improve the end result
- An inclusive discussion about inclusive leadership can produce amazing results
- Effective communication is a relatable message – whether that be through a story or a joke.
“Without inclusive youth leadership, a movement isn’t moving anywhere soon.” – Connor Moore, Special Olympics Delaware
I play unified soccer.
- I like the way partners on the YAC [Youth Activation Committee] help each other.
- I like the way Lindsey and Erin work together.
- I like it that Erin draws pictures to express her feelings in public.
“I love public speaker because I want to see new people who don’t know about Unified Sports.” – Kabir Robinson, Special Olympics Washington
- I believe that we all have something to give, whether it’s our time, our affection, or our thoughts, and I encourage you all to remember to give.
- We can all learn from each other despite our abilities or disabilities, we all have something that we can share with someone else.
- Teamwork is very helpful, and sometimes you can achieve more when you work together.
“The only way you can truly impact someone’s life is by opening up and letting them impact yours.” – Karina Vargas-Silva, Special Olympics Washington
I participate in Soccer and Track.
- Inclusive youth leaders work hard and work together.
- Inclusive youth leaders do good things.
- Inclusive youth leaders make new friends.
“Project UNIFY is fun because you work with more people.” – Erin Meyer, Special Olympics New Jersey
I am a volunteer at track and field and soccer events.
- It is imperative that we allot time and provide opportunities for everyone to share their opinions and ideas in their own ways so that all voices can be heard.
- Youth are just as powerful as adults! With the right amount of support from administration, youth can have a huge impact on their peers.
- Project UNIFY should be used as a means to create lasting friendships that extend past the playing field.
“A call to action: If you have the opportunity to volunteer at a Special Olympics event, take it one step further. Keep in touch with at least one athlete via social media, going out to eat, or simply cheering for that athlete at their next competition. This type of action will continue to promote the core idea of Project Unify after the games are over.” – Lindsey Conlan, Special Olympics New Jersey
I participate in Unified Basketball and I help train the Athletes for all the competitions.
- Whole school inclusion makes everyone feel valued.
- Everyone has a talent that can be used to implicate whole school inclusion.
- End-the-R-Word Campaigns are great ways to get everyone involved.
“Being a part of Project UNIFY is the best thing in the world. It makes you feel appreciated and valued, you meet wonderful friends, and it gives you the chance to make a positive difference in the world.” – Kelsey Foster, Special Olympics South Carolina.
We encourage you to learn more from these youth leaders by watching the Google+ Hangout!