Brother-Sister Youth Partners
Sarah and Ben are not just siblings, they’re a team. In June, they head to the Global Youth Activation Summit in Athens from Colorado, where they lead Project Unify® at their school and are working to expand youth involvement in Special Olympics Colorado.
Ben Barnhart has been a Special Olympics athlete since he was 8. Now, eight years later, he is bringing his sister, Sarah, along for the ride. Sarah and Ben are a team. They are Unified Sports® partners and members of Special Olympics Colorado’s Youth Activation Committee, where they lead Project UNIFY® in their school and community, promoting acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.
Representing Their Country
Sarah and Ben were recently selected to represent the United States at the 2011 Global Youth Activation Summit (GYAS) in Athens, Greece, which will coincide with the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games. During the Summit, youth leaders from over 30 countries will video blog, conduct webinars and connect with their communities at home through Facebook. They will also share ideas for promoting inclusion and social justice in their schools with other youth from around the world.
GYAS participants were selected through a competitive process in which 16 Special Olympics U.S. Programs nominated youth pairs based on their leadership in promoting the core component of Project UNIFY (such as Unified Sports and the R-word campaign). Sarah and Ben have promoted the R-word campaign in their school and they have also created a strategy to expand youth involvement in Special Olympics throughout Colorado.
Growing TogetherAccording to Sarah and Ben, their relationship has grown through their involvement in Special Olympics. As Sarah explains, “as all brothers and sisters do, we’ve of course had some hard times together, but the common want for respect is a real driving passion that motivates both of us to strengthen our relationship, and be chill together.” Sarah has also seen her brother develop confidence through Project UNIFY. As Ben explains, he always knew he would be selected to go to Greece, “because I’m special.”