As a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM), Nyasha Derera hopes to become a voice for the voiceless. He believes that because he has faced many challenges in life and went on to achieve many successes, he can use this opportunity to inspire others. His dream is to attend a university and attain a degree that will allow him to make a big difference in people’s lives.
Hailing from Zimbabwe, Nyasha holds a number of leadership roles within Special Olympics in addition to being an SSIGM. At the 2018 Global Athlete Congress in the Dominican Republic, he was elected Chairperson of the Congress by his fellow athletes. As part of this role, he serves on the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. He is also a Global Health Messenger, and in that position, he advocates for health by teaching healthy habits and everyday fitness.
In addition to being a leader with Special Olympics, Nyasha is an accomplished short and long distance runner. In Zimbabwe, he holds an impressive record of 17 gold medals, six silver medals, and one bronze medal. At the Los Angeles 2015 World Games, he won bronze.
At an early age, he was labeled “crazy” and put in special classes where he was isolated without friends. He was self-motivated to train in athletics and decided to join the school team. He did not perform well the first time he competed and was called “useless” by the other students. This made him train even harder. He won his next race.
In 2012, Nyasha joined Special Olympics when it was introduced at his school. Joining Special Olympics gave him the confidence to become a school leader. He started by sharing his inspirational story with younger students. He is now a motivational speaker spreading a message of hope, inclusion, and goal-setting.
He volunteers at schools in his community providing competitive readiness training on how to become an effective athlete and student. His other volunteer activities include officiating at soccer and athletic competitions. He is also a member of the Lions Club and volunteers with an organization called Restless Development that empowers youth to solve the world’s challenges.