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Community Impact

Youth Leaders Paving the Way for Inclusive Communities

Graphic for International Days of Persons with Disabilities

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December 2022), Special Olympics is excited to announce the recipients of the ninth cycle of youth-led projects through the Youth Innovation Initiative.

Over the past few months, Youth Leaders across the globe have been designing, planning, and applying to lead an inclusion-based project. Many who have been awarded a grant are delegates from in-person Youth Leadership Summits that were implemented in 2022. For many Regions, their Regional Youth Leadership Summits were the first in-person event since COVID-19, and it has been wonderful to see Youth Leaders come together and develop new ways to grow the Unified Generation in-person. Jackie Jodl, Chief of Global Youth and Education remarks that she is “thrilled to be awarding the newest cohort of Youth Innovation Project leaders these grants to support their creativity and commitment to inclusion at the grassroots level.” It is her hope that these young people, “take this opportunity to continue developing their project management and leadership skills as they are the future of the Unified Generation”.

Lisa and Giorgia, Youth Leaders from Special Olympics Italy, are taking the knowledge and skills they learned earlier this year at the 2022 Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Regional Youth Leadership Summit in Berlin and leading a Youth Innovation Project in their local community of Lecco, Italy. Lisa and Giorgia are extremely excited to deploy the new skills and activate their project, MountINclusion, to bring people together to engage in Unified events and develop long lasting friendships.

“My experience of having a sibling with ID made me realize that people with ID have more difficulties interacting and have fewer opportunities to share moments with other young people and make friends. [Lisa and I] hope to organize at least 6 full day trips in our local territory, create a unified group of (at least) 60 young people who will share moments of outdoor sport and activities. It’s important for us that everybody in the group feels free to express preferences and take part in decision-making processes: this is the first step to becoming a young leader.”
Giorgia Chirico, a Special Olympics Italy Youth Leader

In this upcoming cycle, Special Olympics is proud to be awarding a total of 59 Youth Innovation Projects to 111 youth project leaders spanning 51 Special Olympics Programs. Youth Leaders like Lisa and Giorgia are leading the way for inclusion in their schools and communities through their innovative and inspiring projects. Learn more about each project awarded in cycle 9 here.

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