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Community Impact

Hand in Hand for Inclusion: Special Olympics El Salvador’s Story

two girls in red shirts sitting next to each other
Unified pair, Gaby and Amy, at Special Olympics El Salvador event

Special Olympics Unified Schools build on the concept that playing sports together is a quick path to understanding those around you as well as a way of forming new friendships. In El Salvador, Unified Schools unite students with and without intellectual disabilities to play Unified Sports together. These inclusive events allow students to form new friendships and increase their athletic and social skills.

Thanks to the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the transformative power of Unified Schools has led to the formation of many new friendships among students who otherwise may have never had the chance to meet. An example of this impact is the friendship between Gaby and Amy, a Unified pair from the city of San Salvador.

Without Barriers (Sin Barreras)

Without Barriers (Sin Barreras)
Special Olympics El Salvador shares how Unified Schools create a more inclusive world and help end the stigma around intellectual disabilities. Our new series, Faces of Inclusion, begins by following Unified Youth Leaders from Olimpiadas Especiales El Salvador. Amy and Gaby are working on expanding inclusion through Unified Schools with support from Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Although they are not related, Gaby and Amy refer to each other as sisters. They met three years ago at a Unified Schools event where Gaby was a Special Olympics El Salvador Athlete Leader and Amy was a Unified Partner with the Scouts Association of El Salvador. After striking up a friendship, the duo paired up as colleagues and have since advocated inclusion throughout the country.

Like Sisters (Como Hermanas)

Like Sisters ( Como Hermanas)
“You can find your best friends in unexpected places.” Through the work of Special Olympics, and with the support of @SNFOrg, a unique friendship was created between Amy and Gaby. Two young people from El Salvador share how Special Olympics brought them together to become best friends.

As an active member of the Scouts Association of El Salvador, Amy assisted in the creation of a partnership between Scouts and Special Olympics El Salvador. This partnership has given opportunities for Scouts and Special Olympics El Salvador athletes to shares new experiences with one another and create a generation of leaders of all abilities that want to serve their community.

Scout’s Honor (Honor de Explorador)

Scout’s Honor (Honor de explorador)
Through the strategic partnership between Scouts and Special Olympics, Amy Ramirez was introduced to a life of inclusion. “That changed my life completely!” Thanks to the partnership between Special Olympics and Scouts, Gaby, and Amy met.. Since forming a friendship, they have utilized the support of Stavros Niarchos Foundation to become change makers in their country.

Gaby and Amy were also present at the signing of an official agreement between Special Olympics El Salvador and the Department of Education in the Salvadoran town of Chalatenango. In the video below, the Director of Education in Chalatenango states the success of Gaby and Amy as a Unified pair motivated him to create similar opportunities for students both with and without intellectual disabilities in his community.

Passport to the Future (Pasaporte al Futuro)

Passport to the Future (Pasaporte al Futuro)
Education is the passport to the future. Amy and Gaby aided in creating a partnership between Special Olympics El Salvador and the Ministry of Education in the town of Chalatenango. We wrap up our series by highlighting the impact Amy and Gaby had on their country by aiding in a crucial partnership between Special Olympics and the Ministry of Education in El Salvador to help unify efforts in inclusive education.

Gaby and Amy’s success as a Unified pair highlights the importance and potential of giving young people with and without intellectual disabilities the chance to lead together. By co-hosting inclusive projects in their community and holding conversations with school and government officials about the importance of Unified Schools, Gaby and Amy are changing the perspectives of people around them and receiving support and recognition from their loved ones for their efforts.

There is a light (Hay Una Luz)

There is a light (Hay Una Luz)
After doctors said Gaby would be an outcast because of her intellectual disabilities, her parents sought the support of Special Olympics. Through Special Olympics and the support of @SNFOrg, Gaby and Amy became Unified Partners. Their story has touched the hearts of both of their parents.

Even with all their success, Gaby and Amy do not plan to slow down any time soon. They will continue to spread awareness of Unified Schools and their work, as well as the benefits of their friendship with schools, teachers, and fellow community members. In doing so, Gaby and Amy are actively creating welcoming spaces where people of all abilities can thrive and be accepted for who they are. 

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