Youth Leaders to Gather in Abu Dhabi to Promote Inclusion Around the World

UAE, 29 January 2019: More than 150 young and adult leaders with and without intellectual disabilities from over 35 countries will come together in Abu Dhabi this March to share and develop their ideas for a more inclusive world.

The Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Summit, to be held 14 – 18 March in conjunction with Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, will convene youth leaders from across the world to learn, share best practices, and develop plans to implement the inclusive vision of Special Olympics in their home communities around the world.

The Summit will be held in partnership with Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, the UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Chair of the Special Olympics UAE Board, and represents a key component of the Cultural Olympiad, which will run alongside the World Games.

Young Emiratis will host youth leaders representing all seven regions of the Special Olympics movement, including Middle East North Africa, Africa, Asia Pacific, East Asia, Europe Eurasia, Latin America, and North America.

Through workshops and other developmental sessions, they will train to become change agents of inclusion in their home communities.

The event will also include the Global Youth Circle hosted by Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, who will facilitate a ‘live’ discussion with young people on the challenges faced by those with and without intellectual disabilities and shape global solutions for a more inclusive world.

Her Excellency Shamma Bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, the UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Chair of the Special Olympics UAE Board said: “We are honoured to host the youth of the world during the youth conference as part of the Special Olympics World Games in the UAE. This is an opportunity to offer effective programs to create an inclusive society, both in our country as well as their homelands.

“What makes the conference special is that it will have the contribution of youth with and without intellectual disabilities in unified projects. In the Year of Tolerance,
the UAE aims to bring people together across divides; closing communication gaps that breed ignorance, distrust and fear; breaking down stereotypes; and fostering new relationships founded on deeper understanding, acceptance, respect, and trust.

“It means more than simply just accepting the existence of other groups with different norms, language, religion or beliefs or different abilities and instead interacting with them, learning from them, and using those differences to create a strong, peaceful, and thriving society.”

The Global Youth Leadership Summit has been an integral part of the Special Olympics movement for over a decade. Following the Summit, the participants, aged between 15 and 25, will implement the most pioneering winning ideas in their respective home nations with support from Special Olympics and its partners.

Previous youth-led community projects have included training youth advocates for inclusion and hosting sports clinics to teach disability-inclusive sports, and participants share their learning with their peers at home through online platforms.

In a message to participants, Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International, said: “These young people with and without intellectual disabilities are leaders articulating a global vision and building a global movement for inclusion. They embody a conviction that each and every one of us has a gift and our responsibility as community leaders around the world is to create places where every gift is valued. As Special Olympics launches into its next 50 years, these youth leaders will create a global legacy for these World Games in communities around the world.

Tala Al Ramahi, Chief Strategy Officer of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said: “This is a fantastic platform for young people with and without intellectual disabilities to come together and devise ways in which to build a more inclusive society. We are looking forward to welcoming talented young people from around the world to Abu Dhabi this March to participate in what I know will be inspiring, intelligent and innovative discussions on how to make our world a more inclusive place.

“The United Arab Emirates has always believed in the power of youth to create positive change through engaging them in the policy making and nation building process, and this Summit reflects our commitment to this agenda. These youth leaders are the next generation and play an important role in shaping the inclusive future we all aim and hope to be a part of.”

In addition to the formal Summit programming on 13 and 19 March (preceding and succeeding the Summit), young Emiratis will have the opportunity to share their personal ideas in small-group mentoring sessions. These two dates will be an important platform for Emirati youth to develop their skill sets as part of their development into local leaders of the inclusivity movement. It will also provide an opportunity for them to ensure a legacy is left after the World Games.

With more than 7,500 athletes from over 190 nations competing, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event in 2019.

ENDS

About Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 is an integral part of local, national and regional plans to expand opportunities for people of determination in line with Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s shared vision of a unified and inclusive society.

Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi will be the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world in 2019. From 14 – 21 March, over 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 190 countries will participate in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in world-class venues throughout Abu Dhabi.

The first ever Special Olympics World Games to be held in the Middle East and North Africa will also be the most unified Games in the 50-year history of the Special Olympics movement, with inclusion of people of determination with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event.

For more information on Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit abudhabi2019.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Summit

The inaugural Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Summit was held in conjunction with the 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Anchorage, Alaska. From 32 youth leaders and mentors to now over 200, the Global Youth Leadership Summit has carried out a successful model in empowering youth to become inclusion innovators in countries all over the world. View the full delegate list online: https://www.sogyls2019ad.org/delegations.

Participants in the 2019 Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Summit hail from nations including:

Argentina
Bahrain
Bosina and Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Burkina Faso
Canada
Chile
China
Chinese Taipei
Cote D'lvoire
Cyprus
Egypt
Finland
Germany
Greece
Hong Kong
India
Indonesia
Italy
Kenya
Kuwait
Macau
Mauritius
Mexico
Montenegro
Morocco
Oman
Pakistan
Romania
Russia
Senegal
Serbia
Singapore
Syria
Tanzania
UAE
USA
Zimbabwe

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 180 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 www.SpecialOlympics.org.

Media Contacts

Sharan Sunner
Seven Media
sharansunner@sevenmedia.ae
00971 55 698 4327

Theresa Fitzpatrick
Special Olympics
tfitzpatrick@specialolympics.org
+1 (202) 824-0329