The following post was written by Inge and Heidi, two Special Olympics youth leaders from Estonia. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!
On the 5th of October and 16th of November two events organized by Special Olympics Estonia took place at the Kristine Sport’s Hall for basic school students from several Estonian schools. My name is Inge and me and my elder sister, Heidi, are members of Estonian Special Olympics. I am a swimmer and my sister has been my partner for several Special Olympics projects. As a participant of the Young Leaders project, my role at the events was to introduce the mission of Special Olympics to the children there.
The first event took place on the 5th of October. At first the students were dividend into several groups and were given athletic tasks to perform. I stood with my sister as we talked about Special Olympics as an a whole and Special Olympics Estonia. We also spoke about sports and healthy lifestyle choices. This wasn’t difficult for us since we took part in a conference in Lithuania in 2018 that spoke about healthy lifestyle choices and eating habits. We noticed that children often preferred chips and chocolate over carrots and apples. I informed individuals that they should eat 4–5 times a day and have small snacks in between.
The second event took place on the 16th of November. At that event we played lacrosse. Several of the participants had never played the sport before. We first gave the participants athletic tasks to perform. After that, we played against one another. I did not play on a team, but I did help count points and be of use wherever I was needed. The students seemed to enjoy time spent with each other even though they had different abilities and were from different schools. I loved talking with different students during the event. Many of them expressed an interest in joining Special Olympics Estonia.
Both days were filled with sports and interesting people. Although we were active the whole day, I wasn’t tired when I got home from the events. Participating taught me that although people are different, it is very easy to unite through sport. Also, I learned how to play lacrosse and football!
There should be more events like this that bring together students with differing backgrounds and abilities. At the moment there is a big division between individuals with and without intellectual disabilities. There shouldn’t be. We are all equal and important and special in our own ways. I liked that, as a Young Leader, I could introduce Special Olympics Estonia to other students. I hope that some of them will join Special Olympics Estonia and stay healthy!
The 2018 Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant initiative is supported through partnerships with Hasbro, Inc., The Samuel Family Foundation, the Office 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 at SpecialOlympicsGlobalYouthProjects.org.