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National Youth Activation Committee

The National Youth Activation Committee (YAC) is made up of young people from across the country who work together to promote school communities where all young people are agents of change. YAC members provide advice and counsel on strategies designed to reach other youth, engage in and promote Special Olympics activities in their home environments, communicate the initiatives of Special Olympics Project UNIFY, and network with other youth and U.S. Programs on a local, national, and global basis. To learn more about the activities of the National Youth Activation Committee, read the biographies of current members below or view a slideshow of YAC members in action.

2014 - 2015 Youth Activation Committee Members

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Representing: Special Olympics Indiana

Abby Abel

I am 18 years old and I am from Indiana. I have been involved in Special Olympics for about two years. I was nominated by my school to become the partner-athlete to represent Indiana and represent the IHSAA within Special Olympics. I got involved to help promote the Project UNIFY movement across our state and create an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance within my school and community. I hope to bring back ideas from other members and apply it to my community, as well as to help spread Project UNIFY and meet amazing, and inspiring people along the way. I hope to make a lasting impact within the movement and in my hometown. My favorite part of being involved with Project UNIFY is being able to participate in sports for our school with my best friends. It truly is incredible, and teaches us all that there is more to sports than winning.


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Representing: Special Olympics Hawaii

Rachel Alm

I am 18 years old and live in Hawaii. I have been involved with Special Olympics for two years and first got involved when a teacher approached me to help with our school’s Special Olympics Sports Day. I joined the National Youth Activation Committee because I love helping people and it seemed like a fun thing to do. Through this program, I hope to connect with other states so we can continue to improve and learn together. I would also like to build the efforts of Special Olympics Project UNIFY in Hawaii. My favorite part of being involved in Project UNIFY has been the people that have I’ve met, I can honestly say that they are the most genuine and kind group I have come across.


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Representing: Special Olympics Arizona

Jamie Behymer

I am 17 years old and I represent Special Olympics Arizona. On the National Youth Activation Committee, I am currently a co-chair for the Social Media and Communications sub-committee. I was originally introduced to the organization through my older brother who has autism. He was participating in Unified Tennis and our district was in desperate need of assistance. I volunteered as a Unified Partner, and from the moment I stepped onto the tennis court with the athletes, I was inspired by their dedication and determination. Their positive attitudes were infectious and made me realize that I could never leave Special Olympics. I am a member of Arizona Youth Activation Committee and have seen the difference of inclusion between Special Education students and General Education students. As a National Youth Activation Committee member, I hope to educate students about Inclusive Youth Leadership, motivate them to embrace the new and innovative leadership style, and encourage them to implement the program into their schools or communities. My favorite part of being involved with Project Unify is generating awareness and advocating for those with intellectual disabilities and creating friendships with other youth leaders that I will keep forever.


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Representing: Special Olympics Indiana

Mitch Bonar

I am an athlete for Special Olympics Hamilton County Indiana and have been for 6 years. I represent the state of Indiana. I am 18 years old and a senior in high school. I played basketball for Special Olympics during a half time playoff basketball game. A week later I told my school athletic teams that our school should participate in Unified Sports. All the kids signed the agreement and our school had it’s first Unified team! I was named most motivated athlete of the year. I am also involved in Special Olympics flag football, softball, bowling and basketball. National YAC is helping me have the tools to accomplish my dream. I would like to share my story as a disabled individual to remove the “dis” out of disability and show every person I come across my “abilities” by participating in Unified Sports. I am a person with disabilities with a voice. It is my responsibility to give everyone a voice. National YAC gives me an opportunity to do this and that is my favorite part of Project UNIFY.


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Representing: Special Olympics Pennsylvania

Kenneth Brown

I am 18 years old and represent Special Olympics Pennsylvania. I have been working with Special Olympics for a year. I originally got involved with Special Olympics because of my twin brother Kevin, who has Autism and intellectual disabilities. He was my original reason for joining the Unified Sports soccer program in Philadelphia. But it became much more... It wasn’t just Kevin who inspired me, it was EVERYONE !! I will never forget our first game – all of the smiles as we had so much fun. As a National YAC member, I truly want to reach out to people on a national & local level, helping to start a chain reaction and break down barriers. I want to
empower others so that one-day their dreams will come true too. My favorite part about being involved with Project UNIFY is that everyday is another opportunity to help another someone’s dreams come true.


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Representing: Special Olympics Montana

Chris Clare

I am 18 years old and from Montana. I am an inspirational speaker. I want the opportunity to spread the word about inclusive leadership and activities to as many people as I can reach. Being a leader gives me opportunities to talk to people and to demonstrate how much people with disabilities can do.


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Representing: Special Olympics Wyoming

Shelby Dial

I am 17 years old and a student at Central High school in Wyoming. I first got involved with Special Olympics as a family member on the sidelines cheering on my big sister Shaelee, who is now 21 and still competes in Special Olympics. About five to six years ago I started partnering and coaching for track, basketball, swimming, soccer, skiing, snowboarding, and bowling. I have also been a member of the Youth Activation Program in Wyoming. Many times I’ve gone into schools to talk about the R-word and how it affects our community. I’ve also encouraged other students to join me in taking the pledge. I hope to make a difference in our schools and community by educating others about individuals with intellectual disabilities. Since I became involved with Special Olympics I have met some amazing people who have shown me what real courage, strength, love and determination is all about. I am happy to call each and every one of them part of my family and amazing friends. These friendships I will cherish for a lifetime.


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Representing: Special Olympics Idaho

Roberto Eguia

I am 20 years old and from Boise, Idaho. My involvement with Special Olympics started in elementary school when an aide in the resource room got me started in track. I have participated as an athlete since then in track, volleyball, softball, and floor hockey. As a member of the National Youth Activation Committee, I would like to get more people, especially athletes, involved in the program. I would also like to start a Partners Club at my high school. My favorite part about being involved in Project Unify is meeting a lot of awesome people. I am looking forward to work with other members of the National YAC and meeting people from all over the country.


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Representing: Special Olympics South Carolina

Kelsey Foster

I am 19 years old and I live in Lexington, South Carolina. I got involved with Special Olympics through a unified gym class offered at my high school. I have only been involved with Special Olympics for a year, but within that year I have crammed in as much volunteer work as I could, to the point that I was working every weekend with different athletes. I fell in love with all my athletes and it made me realize I wanted to do more, so I joined my state YAC which then lead to the National YAC. The athletes I’ve gotten the pleasure to work with always bring a smile to my face and their courage and bravery never ceases to amaze me. As a member of the National YAC, I want to make a difference. I will Spread the Word to End the Word and promote unity in our communities. My goal is to touch as many lives as I can and help people be the best that they can be. Being able to change our communities for the better is my favorite part about working with Project UNIFY, and so is the joy and happiness we can bring our athletes. Project UNIFY is changing how the world thinks about people with special needs, and it’s a dream come true to be a part of it!


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Representing: Special Olympics Rhode Island

Allie Gould

I am 17 years old and I am from Rhode Island. I first became involved with Special Olympics in eighth grade when I attended our state’s Winter Games to cheer on the athletes as a part of a community service project. On that day I knew I wanted to devote my life to this organization and all of its great qualities. Since then I have joined multiple committees, I serve as the co-chair for the Rhode Island State YAC and I also play Unified Basketball and Volleyball. As a member of the National YAC, I hope to further expand the true values of Special Olympics to people all across the country. I also hope to influence others to be advocates for leadership and achieve their goals. Project UNIFY has taught me a lot about inclusion and the importance of acceptance. Without the influence that Project UNIFY displays to people all around the world, the amount of youth involvement and advocacy today would not be the same.


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Representing: Special Olympics Michigan

Jasmin King

I am 17 years old and live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have been participating in Special Olympics since my freshman year in high school. I am a participant in Unified Bowling and I am on our State Youth Activation Committee. I am excited to be a part of the National Youth Activation Committee. As a member of the National YAC, I am looking forward to learning new things and sharing the things I have learned with other States. Special Olympics is a great program, and I look forward to sharing its mission as well as what Project UNIFY is all about, with my community, as well as other communities in and around Michigan. I hope to inspire others to participate and get involved in their own communities with Project UNIFY. I am looking forward to making even more friends in the years to come.


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Representing: Special Olympics Delaware

Connor Moore

I am 17 years old and represent Special Olympics Delaware on the National YAC. I’ve been a part of Special Olympics for nearly as long as I can remember! My first role was as a fan, cheering on my older sister. She was born with Down syndrome, and has served as my biggest inspiration. Once I grew old enough, I became involved as a Unified Sports partner and a coach. Growing up with athletes and unified partners alike, I have made friendships I wouldn’t trade for the world. I currently serve as a track and long distance running coach and bowling unified partner, as well as a member of the Delaware Youth Activation Committee. I have seen the positive impact Project UNIFY has had on the Delaware community, and I can’t wait to work with other states and develop it on the national level! My favorite part about Project UNIFY is meeting so many people passionate about the same thing I am, and working together to produce amazing results.


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Representing: Special Olympics Rhode Island

Jessie Oliveira

I am 17 years old and I represent Special Olympics Rhode Island. I have been involved with Special Olympics for two years and I first became involved in ninth grade when I started playing Unified Sports. I play Unified Basketball and Volleyball for my high school. This year I am joining the Rhode Island State YAC and I am excited to get more involved. My goals for the National YAC include creating more youth involvement, meeting new people and having fun!!! My favorite part about Project UNIFY is getting to know new people and learning more about Special Olympics.


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Representing: Special Olympics South Carolina

Brady Platt

I am 19 years old and from Lexington, South Carolina. I have been a student athlete since I was 5 years old. I play baseball, basketball, track and field, and love to bowl. I enjoy attending the State Rally to end the R-word and other activities. I love spending time with others. I am so excited to be on the National Youth Activation Committee and I can’t wait to make a difference in the lives of others.


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Representing: Special Olympics Washington

Kabir Robinson

Hello everyone! My name is Kabir Robinson and I am 16 years old, almost 17! I live in Seattle and represent Special Olympics for Washington State. I got involved in Special Olympics through a friend in middle school. I did swimming for two years and soccer for one year…so far. I would like to start a Unified Basketball team at my school. I am excited to be part of the National YAC and meet new people. My goal is for more new people to understand what Project UNIFY is and tell them about the Spread the Word campaign. My favorite part about being involved in Project Unify is public speaking. I love to speak to the new people in the audience who don’t know about Project UNIFY.


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Representing: Special Olympics Michigan

Hallie Rogers

I am 17 years old and live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have been involved with Special Olympics since I was four years old. I got involved because my mom was an Area Director for our local program and I loved to go with her to events. I went with her to a track meet when I was twelve and helped with a girl who was visually impaired. I went to every event that she was involved in and I was so surprised and happy when I saw what she accomplished. She was a true inspiration to me. Over the years we have developed a friendship that really means a lot to me. I knew from that day on I wanted to be a part of Special Olympics. I am a Unified Sports partner in unified bowling, soccer, and bocce ball. I am on our State Youth Activation Committee and I am excited to be a part of the Nation Youth Activation Committee. Special Olympics is a great program and I want to be able to further the mission of the organization and change the culture in every community. As a National YAC member, I hope to share what I learn from other states, and educate my community and communities around Michigan on what Special Olympics and Project UNIFY is all about. I want to share my experience with everyone and hope that I will inspire others. My favorite part of being involved with Project UNIFY is all the great friends I have made, and seeing kids with intellectual disabilities and kids without intellectual disabilities working together to accomplish the same goal. The people that I have met through Project UNIFY have become my best friends and I am looking forward to working with people from other states.


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Representing: Special Olympics North Carolina

Isabella Smith

I am 17 years old and represent North Carolina. I have been involved with Special Olympics for almost 16 years. I first got involved through my brother who is a Special Olympics athlete. I became an athlete myself when I turned 8. In 2012, I was selected to be a Global Messenger and State Youth Activation Council member. One thing I hope to accomplish as a National YAC member is to increase the knowledge of and participation in Project UNIFY. I want to help people become more aware of Special Olympics and all of the projects involved with it. My favorite part of Project Unify is being able to volunteer, give speeches, and work hand in hand with a bunch of wonderful people who are passionate about it, just as I am.


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Representing: Special Olympics New York

Elizabeth Strange

I am 17 years old and I am from New York. I have been involved with Special Olympics for four years now and I first got involved at my school. I am now president of the Special Olympics club at my school and I am New York's Youth Leader. I'm very excited to contribute my ideas to the National YAC and I'm also excited to get to know everyone from all the other states.


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Representing: Special Olympics North Carolina

Monayzia Taylor

I am 18 and represent Special Olympics North Carolina. I've been involved with Special Olympics since my sophomore year in high school. I have always had a passion for working with Special Olympics athletes. I started off with doing small volunteer hours at my school my sophomore year and I knew I had to do more. I learned that it only takes one smile, one event, one cheer to see an athlete happy, and honestly that’s all that matters. I hope to accomplish leadership skills on the National YAC that will apply it to whatever I plan to do in the future. My favorite part about being involved with Project UNIFY is getting others involved. I can say as a president of Project UNIFY in my school, I love when “outsiders” come up to me asking if they can join or what can they do to help out.


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Representing: Special Olympics Washington

Karina Vargas-Silva

I am 17 years old and represent Washington. I've been involved with Special Olympics for almost 3 years now, I got involved with Unified Sports because I loved playing sports and I thought it was time for me to meet new people and try something new. I loved playing Unified Sports, it was challenging and fun. I got involved with Project UNIFY because I feel that everyone is equal and should be treated that way. As a National YAC member I want to accomplish a way to promote health more in the nation so individual states can take health more seriously, I want Special Olympics athletes to be treated like athletes. My favorite part of being involved with Project UNIFY is Unified Sports because I think its great that everyone can play on the same team no matter gender, age or skill level. For me it's a way to show that we all belong because we all play on the same team despite our differences – we win and we lose as a team.


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Representing: Special Olympics Montana

Jon Wilson

I am 17 years old and I am from Victor, Montana. I've been involved with Special Olympics since 2013. My school Special Ed teacher recommended my partner Chris and myself to go to North Carolina for the 2013 Special Olympics North America Conference to represent Special Olympics Montana. We attended the Conference, and were inspired to develop our state Special Olympics program and inform more people about programs like Project UNIFY. I've been able to meet a lot of amazing and inspiring people, with and without intellectual disabilities, and each of their stories serve as an inspiration to do my very best to promote this program. As a National YAC member, I hope to be able to inform and inspire partners and athletes across the nation, and to help usher in a new Unified Generation, one that looks past intellectual disabilities and sees athletes and partners.


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Posted on 2014-10-27 by Janet

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