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Nyasha standing, Special Olympics Board of Directors Chair, Global Athlete Congress; Special Olympics Athlete, Zimbabwe; Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger

Nyasha Derera

Global Athlete Input Council

Hailing from Zimbabwe, Nyasha holds several leadership roles within Special Olympics. At the 2018 Global Athlete Congress in the Dominican Republic, his fellow athletes elected him Chairperson of the Congress. As part of this role, as Chair of the Global Athlete Congress he serves on the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. He is also a Global Health Messenger, advocating for health by teaching healthy habits and everyday fitness.

At an early age, Nyasha was labeled “crazy” and placed in special classes where he was isolated without friends. He was self-motivated to train in athletics and decided to join his school’s 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 leading him to win 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 began his leadership role by sharing his inspirational story with younger students. As a result, he has become a motivational speaker spreading messages of hope, inclusion, and goal setting.[EK1]

As a Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM), Nyasha Derera hopes to become a voice for the voiceless. He believes that because he 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 where he can obtain a degree that will allow him to make a difference in people’s lives.

In these recent years, Nyasha has emerged as a sought after speaker, sharing inspirational messages around the world. In his 1st year as a SSIGM, he delivered speeches and presentations on four continents. His speaking engagements include:

  • Special Olympics Headquarters - Washington, DC, USA, January 2019
  • Special Olympics World Games - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 2019
  • United Nations: 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - New York, NY, USA, June 2019
  • Special Olympics Africa Regional Marketing and Communications Conference - Johannesburg, South Africa, June 2019
  • Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration - Hyannis Port, MA, USA, July 2019
  • Special Olympics Africa Youth Summit - Nairobi, Kenya,
  • Special Olympics Unified Leadership Conference - Dublin, Ireland, October 2019
  • Special Olympics Board Meeting - Washington, DC, USA, November 2019
  • 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games Signing - Berlin, Germany in 2020

In addition to being a leader within Special Olympics, Nyasha is an accomplished short and long-distance runner. In Zimbabwe, he holds an impressive record of 17 gold medals, 6 silver medals, and 1 bronze medal. He competed at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles where he won a bronze medal.
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.

He is currently studying for an Executive Diploma in Sports Management with the Zimbabwe Institute of Management.

Global Athlete Input Council
  • Brightfield Shadi Brightfield is from Botswana, where he was raised by his aunt. She helped him through school and then, in 2008, they found a Special Olympics program which, he says, changed his life. At age 18, he began in athletics—the 100-meter and 200-meter—and won silver at the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens. Then it was on to football (soccer) and volleyball. He is now coaching a unified volleyball team that trained for the 2015 World Summer Games in Los Angeles. Brightfield loves being a coach because he can bring the power of Special Olympics sports to more people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Jasmine Sharif From Karachi, Pakistan, Jasmine Sharif is proud to serve as the Vice Chairperson of the Global Athlete Input Council. She is excited to represent Asia Pacific on the GAIC and promises to do her best in making a difference in the lives of her fellow athletes. In addition to her work on the GAIC, she serves as a Board Member of Special Olympics Pakistan and Co-Chairperson of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Athlete Input Council. She also works at the Special Olympics Pakistan head office.
  • Ken Melvin From Russellville, Indiana, Ken Melvin is honored to serve as the Chair and the North American representative of the Global Athlete Input Council. He believes the Global Athlete Input Council will play a significant role in determining the future for Special Olympics and furthering goals and programs that athletes believe are important. He is also currently serving on the North America Athlete Input Council. Outside of Special Olympics, Ken owns and operates a trucking business and was a member of the Indiana National Guard from 2007 – 2013.
  • Julio Barrera Julio’s first experience in leadership was in 2005 when he represented the athletes in a conference in Japan. He started working in 2013 at an airline company in panama, COPA AIRLINES in the service on board department, which he really enjoys.
  • Micheline Van Hees Micheline Van Hees is from Hoeilaart, a small town in Belgium. She joined Special Olympics Belgium more than 10 years ago. Although a former swimmer, she is now into bocce. In her sport club she is also a respected assistant coach in swimming and athletics. Micheline is an active member of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Belgium. On an international level she takes part into the European Eurasia Leadership Council, European Athlete Input Council and now also the Global Athlete Input Council. She loves to speak to other athletes so she can represent them on a higher level. That is also her aim for the GAIC, to represent the European athletes in the best possible way. In 2014, Micheline was chosen to be one of the 14 athlete ambassadors of the Special Olympics European Summer Games that were organized in 2014 in Antwerp, Belgium. Even now she has remained a strong ambassador for the Belgian organization. In her spare time she volunteers in a local senior home close to where she lives.
  • Nada Al Rachid Nada Al Rachid is from Tunisia. She works as a sport coach in “AL Walid Sports Center” for people with Intellectual Disabilities, in Ariana, Tunisia. Prior to her experience with Special Olympics, Nada has been a trainee in “AL Walid Sports Center” for people with Intellectual Disabilities which offered her the opportunity to join Special Olympics and make a wide variety of sports achievements both at the National and International levels. Thanks to her experience, Nada is now inspiring other people to follow her lead through her work as a trainer and her close relationship with the children in whom she sees hope.
  • Wilson (Wai Shing) Man Wilson Man is honored to serve as the East Asia Representative on the Global Athlete Input Council, where he speaks on behalf of other Special Olympics athletes and works to change the perceptions of people with intellectual disabilities. He also works alongside mentors to lead Hong Kong’s athlete leaders in the local athlete input council to build an inclusive community. Outside of Special Olympics, he is a steward in Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong.
  • Nyasha Derera As a Special Olympics Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM), Nyasha Derera hopes to become a voice for the voiceless.
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