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Special Olympics welcomes Paraguay into the Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion

Paraguay becomes the first South American country to join this pioneering multilateral effort
One woman and two men smiling while holding a Special Olympics branded football
Paraguay is first South American country to join the Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion

Paraguay made history by becoming the inaugural South American nation to join the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion. This milestone was achieved through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding during a ceremony held in the capital city of Asunción on 4 April 2024.

The signing event took place at the Paraguayan Ministry of Education and Science headquarters and was attended by key figures including Luis Fernando Ramirez, the Minister of Education and Science of Paraguay, Claudia Echeverry, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics Latin America, and Luis Cáceres Brun, President of Special Olympics Paraguay.

With this Memorandum, the Ministry of Education and Science of Paraguay commits to guaranteeing spaces and environments conducive to teaching true inclusion to students of all abilities across educational institutions of the national system, to training teachers on Special Olympics matters, including raising awareness on intellectual disabilities and the transformative power of sport, and to encouraging the participation of students and teachers in inclusive sport activities, including those organized by Special Olympics.

The responsibilities assumed by the Paraguayan Government as a member of the Coalition continue to build on the success achieved with 'Open Schools', a project managed in partnership with Special Olympics Paraguay, where 150 schools and educational centers offer students and young people a healthy space for sport and cultural activities during the holiday period, reaching 10,500 students.

Claudia Echeverry said, "This project and its endorsement, where the Ministry of Education and the Paraguayan Government join the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion, are integral to the legacy of our Latin American Games. I wish to congratulate the Minister and his entire team for being the first Ministry to firmly embrace a specific and concrete legacy of these Games: reaching 300 schools and ensuring that these children and young people not only participate in the ‘Open Schools’ Program but also, through this program and their experience at the Latin American Games, undergo a genuine change of perspective and extend it to all their communities.

“That is our aim: for them to become agents of change from their schools to their families and communities. They are truly the ones who will lead our societies. We must work with them from now on and ensure that they acquire the values, soft skills and emotional and social skills necessary to build truly inclusive societies."

The Coalition, made possible by a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), is a pioneering multilateral effort to support people with intellectual disabilities.

For the first time, governments, United Nations agencies, corporate leaders, global philanthropic leaders and the development aid agencies have come together with a shared global commitment to increase inclusive practices in education and sport and create more inclusive schools and communities.

Government Coalition members include: Angola, China, Egypt, Ghana, Gibraltar, Iceland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kosovo, Malta, Mongolia, Montenegro, Panamá, Paraguay, Seychelles, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Luis Fernando Ramirez added, "Within the ‘Open Schools’ space, developed with Special Olympics Paraguay, a coexistence centered around humanity is fostered. It delves into what makes us human and how we engage with it: through art and sport. And there are no barriers. It emerges as a crucial space for civic coexistence, where teachers also learn and realize that it wasn't complicated to say, 'let everyone participate.' As we all begin to learn, it creates a vibrant and valuable space for communities. It marks a first step, a very significant one. These Latin American Games enable us to generate awareness and progress towards what we desire and aspire to."

Luis Cáceres Brun said, "The interaction, connection and coordination of actions between the Ministry of Education and Science of Paraguay and Special Olympics are becoming a global benchmark."

Over the next three years, Coalition members have committed to expanding inclusive sports and education opportunities to over 2,000,000 young people in more than 150,000 schools and scaling Special Olympics programming to 180 nations.

More information on the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion.

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