Involving young people

Special Olympics GB National Games opening ceremony at Bramall Lane Sheffield
Rain is not gooing to dampen these competitors spirits
Special Olympics GB National Games opening ceremony at Bramall Lane Sheffield Rain is not gooing to dampen these competitors spirits

This year August 7-12 marked the Special Olympics Great Britain National Games, writes Tadcaster student Jemima Browning.

It was held in Sheffield and the event has many special guests. Hosting the opening ceremony show was Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter, F1 broadcaster Suzi Perry and football pundit Chris Kamara.

Around 2,600 athletes from a range of ages came together from across the country, each one with an intellectual disability. They will took part in over four days of competition. Also there, were 800 coaches, 1000 volunteers, 200 officials and over 7,000 family and friends.

The games showcased the talent, hard work and dedication of each of the athletes and support the idea of inclusion and access to sport for all.

This year’s anthem, titled ‘We’ll Stop at Nothing’, truly highlights this. It serves to underline the whole ethos of the Special Olympics and what was achieved at this year’s games. To catch up with the events, please look at @SOGreatBritain on Twitter.

My brother and I represent Special Olympics Great Britain on the Inclusive Youth Activation Committee. This committee is composed of four inclusive pairs (a young person with a disability working alongside a young person without) from Bosnia, Cyprus and Serbia. As a group, we aim to harness youth voice to shape the future of the Special Olympics. Our first ever meeting was held in Frankfurt in December 2016. This was a great introduction to our work and a fantastic opportunity to meet everyone. The second meeting, again in Frankfurt, was in June 2017. I was devastated that I could not attend due to my GCSEs. Despite missing the meeting Will and I are continuing our planning and work towards our project.

After December 2016, Will and I started the hard work researching all things Special Olympics to gain a better understanding of how it works in Europe, America and the UK. We then started to contact members of the SOGB team and the COE, Karen Wallin. From this, we decided to plan our project. The project had to be something we were passionate about, something that would better an aspect of the Special Olympics programme and something that would help as many people as possible.

Will and I decided that we wanted to improve the information available for young people. As a young person myself, I found it hard to find the right information about getting involved as a youth leader. Young people are one of the most important groups to engage with and encourage volunteering amongst because young people are the future and they determine the sustainability of not only the Special Olympics but also other organisations. Because of this it is so important that the information out there is the most accessible, relevant and helpful it can be to maximise engagement from young people and encourage long term involvement.

We are developing a resource package that will be linked with the Special Olympics page. We aim to make this accessible to young people with and without learning disabilities. The project will help young people have a clear pathway to becoming involved within the Special Olympics tailored to their personal skills and preferences. Will and I are currently developing surveys to research what current and future young leaders would like and looking at similar youth leadership information packs to see what works well and what doesn’t.

Young leaders are vital to the running of any type of organisation. Youth leadership helps build on skills like communication, teamwork, acceptance, problem solving. It is necessary to have these skills from a young age to build a better, new and unified generation, something I am determined to ensure evolves.