From Fear to Triumph: Meet Stephanie

On the left is Stephanie swimming and no the right is Stephanie standing behind a podium speaking. Text at the bottom reads: Inclusion Works! The Revolution is Inclusion

Through sports, Special Olympics athletes build skills and become leaders—on the field and in the community. Stephanie Handojo can tell you all about it! For Stephanie, swimming has been a great way to shatter stereotypes about the skills and stamina of people with Down syndrome. But to do this, she had to overcome many obstacles, including a huge one: her fear of water.

Not only did Stephanie rise to this challenge, she triumphed: she became an award-winning swimmer and role model. Her victories at Special Olympics World Games and other competitions also gave her confidence to pursue her dreams. She has now embarked on a career as a public speaker and health advocate for people with intellectual disabilities.

She also works with young people—with and without intellectual disabilities—to promote Special Olympics in schools and communities in Indonesia and around the world.

When she's not busy with Special Olympics or public speaking, Stephanie works as a manager at her family’s laundry business in Jakarta. Her goal is to manage the team of employees as if they were family. At the same time, she is also changing attitudes, everywhere she goes. Someone who’d been asked to mentor Stephanie early on, received some mentoring herself: "Since I started mentoring Stephanie, I have realized that people with intellectual disabilities can do anything!”

As Stephanie puts it, “When we include everyone, the world is a better place.”

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