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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

United Nations Panel

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.

United Nations Athlete Lead Panel
  • Ambassador Luis Gallegos Ambassador Gallegos is Chairman of the Global UN Partnership for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies and Chairman of the Universal Design Commission. The Congress of Ecuador has honored him twice and he has received a number of awards for his work in the promotion and protection of the human rights of persons with disabilities, amongst them, the prestigious "Justice for All Disabilities Right Award."
  • Dustin Plunkett Dustin Plunkett is an athlete and athlete leader who served as spokesman and Global Messenger for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles as well as on-air broadcaster for ESPN during the 2015 Games and the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria.
  • Nyasha Derera Chair, Global Athlete Congress; Special Olympics Athlete, Zimbabwe; United Nations Panel
  • Emanuelle Dutra Fernandes de Souza Emanuelle Dutra Fernandes de Souza, is a 24 year-old empowered young woman!
  • Tajha Ilerant Tajha Ilerant is a recent graduate of Immokalee High School and is exceptionally active within her school and community.
  • Chaica Al Qassimi Chaica is a 22-year-old Emirati graduate of Sharjah English School who also studied art at the International School of Arts and Sciences in Dubai. She is fully focused on her martial arts, having attained a black belt from Shotokan Japanese Sports Center. She trains and competes in nine different martial arts with her main interests being Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo.
  • Jared Niemeyer Jared Niemeyer is an active Special Olympic athlete and has been for 18 years, in a variety of sports. Very engaged in school, community and church, he pursues responsible citizenship in every endeavor.
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