Achieving One Dream at a Time

Tajha’s tough times have motivated her; now, she’s motivating others.
Tajha dribbling the basketball on a court. Other athletes are behind and in front of her.

When Tajha started training with Special Olympics as a teen, she was going through a tragic time. She lost her father at a young age, then, a few years later, her mother. Tajha did not know how to channel her sadness and grief. Her coach recalls, “At bowling practice, Tajha would get so angry if she didn’t get a strike.” Every day was a struggle.

“I wanted to break everything, I wanted everyone to feel my pain.”
Tajha

Then she heard the inspiring words of Loretta Claiborne, a woman who also has intellectual disabilities. After hearing Loretta’s speeches, Tajha had a newfound direction. She wanted to be "an inspirational speaker, to do everything [Loretta] has done, but better.”

Small group of athletes and Special Olympics representatives pose for group selfie taken by Jamaal Charles in front of the SXSW EDU 2019 sign.
Chairman Tim Shriver, Teacher Erika Guerrero, Tajha Ilerant, NFL Player Eddie Yarbrough and Global Ambassador Jamaal Charles posing for a selfie after a panel.

Since then, Tajha has become an award-winning athlete and athlete leader. She was named a U.S. Youth Ambassador for Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. She has also spoken at the Global Youth Leadership Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan, and been on a panel alongside Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver, All-Pro Running Back Jamaal Charles, and NFL player Eddie Yarbrough at SXSW EDU.

These days, Tajha is looking ahead to potential jobs and her vocation in life. Tajha has just started an internship with Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. She is also continuing to pursue her goal of becoming a public speaker, studying to become an accredited minister at her church First Ministry Baptist. She is now an ordained minister—the church's first minister with intellectual disabilities—inspiring her congregation with her words and her story. Tajha will be applying to the University of Central Florida and hopefully will begin an internship at Disney World in the communications/hospitality department in two years. In the meantime, she will continue to learn, give public speeches, and develop the necessary skills to be a successful college student and pursue her dreams!!

See Tajha's amazing story.

This is Tajha's Moment

As we move forward, we need to know you’re with us. Be a revolutionary and help end discrimination against people with Intellectual Disabilities.
Recommended Content
Tajha & Loretta
When Tajha heard Loretta Claiborne's story, her whole world changed & she found a renewed purpose in her life. Today, Tajha is leading the #InclusionRevolution in her community!
0:30
Tajha stairing off out the window. Text on the image reads: This is Tajha's moment.
The United States has been a global leader in creating a more inclusive world through their support from the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs and the U.S. Department of Education.
1 Min Read
Young woman looking up at writings on a glass wall and smiling.
This past March, Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® had a significant presence in SXSW EDU.
2 Min Read