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.

2013 - 2014 Youth Activation Committee Members

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Representing: Special Olympics Hawaii

Rachel Alm

I am 16 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 16 years old and I represent Special Olympics Arizona. On the National Youth Activation Committee, I am currently a co-chair for the Inclusive Youth Leadership 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 Pennsylvania

Kenneth Brown

I am 17 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 New Jersey

Lindsey Conlan

I am 17 years old and a senior in high school in New Jersey. The first time I attended a Special Olympics event I was running up and down a football field next to my little brother, who continues to be a Special Olympics athlete. In my high school I became involved with our Best Buddies club, I love the idea of creating friendships that extend past school hours. As a junior I was elected president and I decided to make the club more interactive with monthly out of school events and more frequent meetings. I learned about Project UNIFY through our state Family and Education Director who worked tirelessly with our school to get the program running. Since then we have created a DisAbilities Awareness Day, hosted a Sports Expo, and set the stage for a unified soccer team. Currently, I am helping to establish our state YAC that will be influential at the 2014 National Games being held in New Jersey. I have attended various leadership conferences in New Jersey and I was honored to attend the Special Olympics of North America (SONA) Conference with my athlete partner, Erin. Two of my favorite Project UNIFY memories are the reactions from my peers at DisAbilities Awareness Day and finding out that Erin is a really good dancer at the SONA Conference. Nothing matches the feeling of having a group of friends who accept you for who you are, and as a part of Project UNIFY I know that more people will get a chance to experience that.


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Representing: Special Olympics Wyoming

Shelby Dial

I am 15 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 17 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 17 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 Michigan

Jasmin King

I am 16 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 Idaho

Oh Sang (James) Kweon

I am 17 years old and proudly represent the state of Idaho. I was first introduced to this program about two years ago during Summer 2010 by my piano teacher. That year, as the State Games were low on volunteers, my piano teacher asked me if I would participate in managing the basketball portion of the State Games, and I readily agreed to this. Honestly, at first I did not really know what to expect, but once the Games starting rolling, it was truly an experience that changed my life. From there, my involvement grew and I continued on as a coach, unified partner and eventually member of the Southwest Idaho Youth Activation Council. Now I am proud to say that I am part of the National YAC. Contributing in a greater way by bringing my ideas and my energy into the system is something that I’ve always enjoyed and hopefully others have found helpful. One of the first thing that I’d like to accomplish as a National YAC member is to get it more student-run. Of course we need our adult administrators and specialists to guide us, but making Project UNIFY more student-involved I believe is significant towards our goals. The most rewarding part of Project Unify is the happiness and warmth that just flows around. Whatever it is, Project Unify is definitely a necessary and rewarding goal to maintain.


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Representing: Special Olympics New Jersey

Erin Meyer

I am 17 years old and represent Special Olympics New Jersey on the National Youth Activation Committee. I have been involved in Special Olympics for one year. On the National YAC, I hope to set an example for other people like me and encourage them to join Special Olympics. My favorite part about being involved with Project UNIFY is being part of a group.


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Representing: Special Olympics Delaware

Connor Moore

I am 16 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 South Carolina

Brady Platt

I am 17 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 15 years old, almost 16! 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 16 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 Pennsylvania 

Jordan Schubert

I’m 20 years old representing Special Olympics Pennsylvania. I am currently a junior at West Chester University, majoring in Spanish and minoring in French. I have competed in Special Olympics for over 10 years in three different sports in two states, winning 23 total medals, with the majority of them coming in my favorite sport, basketball. This past summer I was a communications intern for Project UNIFY at Special Olympics International. During my senior year of high school, I was one of the co-founders of Special Olympics Illinois and District 204’s Project UNIFY programs. On the National YAC, my main goal this coming year will be to work on building partnerships. On the local side, I have been working with my state mentor to expand Unified Sports within Philadelphia schools. Last spring, SO Philadelphia held their first Unified Soccer tournament with many schools from all over the city. I’m also hoping to bring Unified Sports to my area and start a state YAC in PA. Recently, I have given myself the name “The YAClete” because last spring I got to show how great a teammate I am on the YAC and on the basketball court. I was able to attend a YAC meeting all the way in Arizona, and then fly back home, and despite the jetlag, help my team win the gold at the Chester County tournament.


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Representing: Special Olympics North Carolina

Isabella Smith

I am 16 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 Colorado

Kaitlyn Smith

I am 21 years old and a Junior at the University of Northern Colorado, where I am working towards a degree in Human Services and minor in Special Education. After meeting my best friend who has Down syndrome 7 years ago, I knew I wanted to find more ways to help individuals with intellectual disabilities, so I started volunteering for Special Olympics. I am now a coach for basketball and Young Athletes, as well as a member of my state Youth Activation Committee and the National Youth Activation Committee. I am intern for Special Olympics Colorado, and have started a Special Olympics club in my community to promote inclusion and acceptance. My favorite part about being on the YAC is having the opportunity work along-side passionate youth from across the country, who want nothing more than to see individuals with disabilities being the leaders of our movement.


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Representing: Special Olympics New York

Elizabeth Strange

I am 16 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 16 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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