A record number of government ministries from Africa Region were represented at the2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany. Alongside the event, five are ready to sign their governments to the Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion pledge: Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, and South Africa.
Earlier in the week, Special Olympics announced the formation of the Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion, a pioneering multilateral effort to support people with intellectual disabilities. For the first time, governments, industry, philanthropy and the development community have come together with a shared global commitment to increase inclusive practices in education and sport, and create more inclusive schools and communities.
What does this effort mean in Africa? Nyasha Derera from Special Olympics Zimbabwe, who has an intellectual disability, is a Special Olympics International Board member and Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger for Africa Region. Derera said, “There are so many Nyashas in Africa. We are often discriminated against and rejected by our own family members. By the presence here of our government leaders, you are changing Africa. You are sending a strong message that we are better, and we are stronger, when we include people with intellectual disability at the grassroots level.”
“When Nyasha speaks, we go to a different level. In Africa Region, when societies and families confront a child who is different, they can see it as a curse. But the transformational power we have seen in Nyasha’s life is a miracle. Special Olympics has the power to change us all. We are just getting started, and this Global Leadership Coalition will continue to grow and support Special Olympics’ movement to foster acceptance and inclusion for all people in schools and communities around the world.”
The Second Lady of Kenya also attended the governmental-level Global Forum of Inclusion. “It’s the natural thing to do. We want to have an inclusive society—if you do not take care of the differently abled, it means the world does not have a heart. I’m here to support inclusion and leave no one behind,” said Her Excellency Pastor Dorcas Rigathi, spouse of Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Rigathi Gachagua.
At home she is a patron of Special Olympics Kenya’s local programming, bringing awareness and sensitizing parents and families about not missing out on the joy and gifts of their children with intellectual disabilities by letting them come to Special Olympics.