Innovators of the Week: Darija and Petar

The following post was written by Darija and Petar, two Special Olympics youth leaders from Montenegro. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!

When I started volunteering a few years ago I did not know how Special Olympics would affect me and how much influence it would have on my life. At the Global Youth Forum, Petar and I learned about recruitment techniques and how to make our project more impactful by engaging more Youth Leaders. At the beginning of our project, we were hoping to recruit 80 total students from five different schools. From there, we organized educational workshops to train and empower the new Youth Leaders.

Through our project and involvement in the Forum, we realized that relationships between peers with and without intellectual disabilities are created through Unified Champion Schools. Unified Champions Schools and different Unified activities ensure the social benefits and potential for real and long-term friendships. We witnessed how important it was to be team player, to participate and contribute to the future of inclusion. We also learned how important it was to speak your mind and express yourself, but most of all to be a listener. You need to listen if you want to help others and be a positive role model.

One takeaway from our project is that communication is one of the keys to success. We talked with a lot of Youth Leaders and they explained the meaning of inclusion and importance of having different projects like ours. Many people shared touching stories of how they overcame all kinds of issues in their communities. They communicated that with a desire for change, we can overcome any challenge.

We are beyond grateful for this opportunity. We both learned many new things, grew as people, met amazing individuals and made many new friends. We are excited to continue to share our experience and spread inclusion. We are trying our best to be positive role models and inspire others to do the same.

The 2018 Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant initiative is supported through partnerships with Hasbro, Inc., The Samuel Family Foundation, theOffice of Special Education Programs at the United States Department of Education, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Learn more about these inspiring projects

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