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Special Olympics Celebrates the Impact of Over 80 Youth Innovation Projects During World Creativity and Innovation Day and Week

Youth Leaders from around the world took action in 2018 through innovative outlets to achieve inclusive schools and communities.
a group of young adults huddled in a circle looking down as the camera looks up at them for a unique photo.

Special Olympics celebrated the unlimited potential of creativity of youth during World Creativity and Innovation Week with stories of action, awareness, and acceptance.In 2018, the youth leaders behind the Special Olympics Youth Innovation Projects engaged over 900 young people with and without intellectual disabilities in nearly 40 countries. All Youth Innovation Projects, funded with grants of up to $2,000, aimed to create change through inclusive sport and community engagement. In line with World Creativity and Innovation Week, our Youth Leaders have inspired over 3,600 youth to not only participate in new programming, but to take action and make decisions that change their communities into a more inclusive place for people with intellectual disabilities.

To strengthen the impact of these projects, Youth Leaders led art experiences, social media campaigns, and inclusive sports experiences. As a result, more than 200 were inspired to take action in their own ways and become Special Olympics Youth Leaders. In Montenegro, Youth Leaders Darija Raicevic and Petar Andric understood the importance of empowering other local youth in order to make their programming more impactful in their community.
“We saw how important it is to be team player, to participate and to contribute to the future of inclusion,” said Darija Raicevic, Special Olympics Montenegro Youth Leader.

In addition to inspiring others to take action, Youth Leaders launched campaigns of awareness through events, social media, and other activities. In Pakistan, Youth Leaders organized inclusive hikes with participants with and without intellectual disabilities.

“This hike was meant to raise awareness about people with intellectual disabilities, and to promote the idea of a ‘unified’ world, where people without disabilities walk alongside people with intellectual disabilities. After some fresh air and clearer minds, the participants were able to shift their mindset of people with intellectual disabilities in society and bring a positive and impactful change in their behavior and attitude towards them.”
Sameer Ahmad, Special Olympics Pakistan Youth Leader.

These projects have also helped to strengthen and grow Special Olympics Unified Schools—an education initiative that combines Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement to create school and community climates of acceptance and social inclusion. In 2018, over 15 schools expanded their Unified Schools programming and an additional 8 schools were established as Unified Champion Schools.

Beyond our Youth Innovation Projects, these Youth Leaders are preparing communities all over the world to accept, contribute, and take part in a Unified Generation.

In 2018, the Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant initiative was supported through partnerships with Hasbro, Inc., The Samuel Family Foundation, the Office of Special Education Programs at the United States Department of Education, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Learn more about the impact of the Youth Projects by reading our full Special Olympics Youth Innovation Projects 2018 Global Impact Report at

About Special Olympics

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 190 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 Foundation, 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 Contacts

Theresa Fitzpatrick
Special Olympics
P: (202) 860-6642