On 23 April, Special Olympics partnered with Global Youth Mobilization at their first-ever Global Youth Summit. This event was led by the Big 6 Youth Organizations: Scouts, World YMCA, World Association of Girls Guides and Girl Scouts, IFRC, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. It was also backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Foundation.
The Global Youth Mobilization and its supporters are calling on governments, businesses, and policy makers to back the initiative and commit to prioritizing young people in their policies and investing in their futures.
The Global Youth Summit united young people around the world between the ages of 18-30 to share their experiences and solutions for COVID-19 pandemic recovery. The goal was to inspire and support others to do the same within their communities and beyond.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, opened the Global Youth Summit alongside Youth Representatives of the Global Youth Mobilization Board. He said, “WHO is committed to ensuring the voice, energy, and solutions offered by youth are the centre of the world’s recovery from COVID-19. Our collaboration with the Big 6 and the United Nations Foundation will fuel wide-ranging actions led by young people to address the challenges their own communities face, and will also provide global platforms for their wisdom and ideas to be heard and acted on.”
The Summit featured 14,000 youth activists from over 150 countries, three plenary sessions with high-profile speakers, and included over 70-hours of content delivered by 150+ expert speakers from 40+ partner organizations.
Special Olympics hosted a session titled Education For Children and Youth with Special Needs. During the session, participants learned about the inequalities people with intellectual disabilities (ID) face with access to education and discussed the importance of belonging, identity, and connection for all students in a school setting. This session was led by three Special Olympics Youth Leaders representing the Special Olympics Latin America Region: A Unified sibling pair (one sibling with and one without ID) from Special Olympics Chile and a Youth Leader from Special Olympics Paraguay. The youth facilitators also led participants through the Inclusion Tiles Game, created by the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® team. As participants shared their thoughts on the journey to inclusion, many reflected on their own experiences and what they can do to create more inclusive communities.
The session had over 180 participants between the digital Summit platform and YouTube livestream. A recording of the session is available to participants who attended the event, or for others who are interested in learning more about their role in supporting post COVID-19 recovery efforts.
Following the Global Youth Summit, participants have the opportunity to apply for funding for youth-led Local Solutions. Local Solutions are a direct investment in young people and their innovative ideas. This funding will be essential to youth-led activism and creative solutions to problems created from the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people are encouraged to apply to lead grassroots programming in their own communities.