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Leaders for Inclusion together in Santo Domingo will showcase to the world the power of Inclusive Leadership

More than 60 Athlete Leaders representing over 56 nations came together to take part in the 2018 Special Olympics Global Athlete Congress in Santo Domingo as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, November 12, 2018 – Special Olympics, together with the Office of the First Lady of the Dominican Republic and the Ministry of Sports, opened the 2018 Special Olympics Global Athlete Congress. The Global Athlete Congress is a 6-day leadership development event held where Special Olympics Athlete Leaders will gather to showcase to the world the power of Inclusive Leadership.

During the Opening Ceremony held at the Sheraton Hotel, the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Cándida Montilla de Medina welcomed the 65 Athlete Leaders and their mentors from 56 countries of the world and expressed her commitment to the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the country and to creating truly inclusive communities with the Dominican Republic leading the way.

Julio Barrera, President of the Athlete Leaders Regional Council of Latin America and Athlete Leaders from Special Olympics Panama delivered the opening remarks and expressed what inclusion means to him: “Inclusion is being able to be a part of the world in which we live, with our friends, family, colleagues, as equals. Special Olympics believes in us. It has given us strength, courage and confidence through sport and beyond, without any fear in life. And as part of the evolution of our Movement, today we are forming more Athlete Leaders. Thank you for believing in our strengths“.

As part of the Ceremony, the Organization of American States and Special Olympics International signed an agreement to promote sports, physical activity, health, inclusive education, sustainable and human development, and human rights of people with intellectual disabilities. The agreement was signed by Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International, and Betilde Muñoz, in representation of Luis Leonardo Almagro Lemes, Secretary General of the Organization of American States. Witnessing the signing were athletes representing the Americas, Europe, and Eurasia.

The world needs more inclusion right now, and at no time in history could Athlete Leadership—leadership for inclusion—be more important. Special Olympics is celebrating its 50th anniversary by challenging more people across the globe to join us in an all-out effort to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities and to create a more inclusive world.

The Global Athlete Congress serves as a platform for Special Olympics Athlete Leaders from around the world to share ideas and develop leadership skills. They will engage in training that will empower them to be leaders and change makers in organizations worldwide. The Athlete Leaders will not only show that people with disabilities are prepared for roles of greater responsibility but that they are important contributors to all aspects of society.

The city of Santo Domingo will host two important global Special Olympics evens in the next few days, as part of the 50th anniversary of the organization’s founding. The other event, the World Tennis Invitational will include over 200 athletes, with and without intellectual disabilities, from over 30 countries, to compete at the highest level. Both events will take place at various venues of the capital, from November 9 through 17. Both events are possible thanks to the official host, the Office of the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Cándida Montilla de Medina, and the support of the Ministry of Sports and Recreation of the Dominican Republic (MIDEREC). Both events will demonstrate the sports skills of the athletes while raising awareness of the social and human value of inclusion.

About Special Olympcis

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International, Microsoft, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium. Learn more at

Media Contact

Mark Daley
Special Olympics International
P: (202) 824-0389