Inclusion takes heart

Inclusion takes heart






Inclusion takes heart

When you know what it’s like to feel left out, you work to ensure others are included.

Issues like social isolation, health challenges, and employment discrimination are especially hard for Special Olympics athletes. That’s why worldwide, Special Olympics global youth leaders have been teaming up and finding creative ways to tackle these issues.

With tools that help the global youth leaders communicate and connect, Microsoft is proud to support their efforts to make a real difference for other Special Olympics athletes in their communities.

Meet the Youth Leaders


Carla and Catalina

Ages: 25 and 18
Country: Argentina
Project name: Closer Than Ever

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Carla and Catalina are using Microsoft Teams to bring Special Olympics athletes together in workshops that focus on physical and emotional wellbeing.

“This project taught me to help others. And helping others makes me feel valued.”

— Carla


Grace and Jack

Ages: 21 and 18
Country: New Zealand
Project name: TBD

It’s challenging for Special Olympics athletes who can’t drive to get to practices and events. So Jack and Grace are developing an app that connects these athletes with transportation. That way, Special Olympics athletes can be self-reliant, stay engaged with their friends and teammates, and attend the events that are most important to them.

“Teams allows us to work together when we can’t be together. We can still share our ideas and do the back and forth that really gets good ideas flowing.”

— Jack


Karina and Alejandro

Ages: 25 and 16
Country: Costa Rica
Project name: TIPT – Trabajo Inclusivo Para Todos (Inclusive Work for All)

Because she’s struggled to find work herself, Karina was eager to help Alejandro with his idea—an app that connects Special Olympics athletes in Costa Rica with employers looking to hire.

“It’s been difficult for me to get a job, because companies treat people with intellectual disabilities differently.”

— Karina


Khady and Kiné

Ages: 25 and 22
Country: Senegal
Project name: Cuisine Santé (Healthy Cooking)

Since a nutritious diet is so important but sometimes challenging for athletes, Kiné and Khady share healthy recipes on their live cooking shows.

“I was supposed to be the boss, but now she’s teaching me.”

— Kiné

“I learn until I master it.”

— Khady


Gersi, Leo, and Ina

Ages: 20, 20, and 20
Country: Albania
Project name: Get Healthy Together

Using Teams to connect five different schools for students with intellectual disabilities, these Special Olympics global youth leaders taught peers and teachers about healthy lifestyle choices, including proper exercise and nutrition.

“I get emotional when these children, especially those with Down syndrome, look at me as a role model.”

— Gersi

In 2018, Special Olympics launched the Youth Innovation Project initiative to empower youth with and without intellectual disabilities who are on the forefront of the Special Olympics movement. Through this initiative, Special Olympics global youth leaders design, plan, and implement their own visions for inclusion in their schools and communities, leveraging the tools of Special Olympics and the mentorship of adult allies. Since its inception, the initiative has funded over 400 youth-led projects for inclusion led by over 660 global youth leaders spanning 125 Special Olympics Programs around the globe.

Microsoft has been a proud supporter of this initiative since 2019, providing project funding, technical support and Microsoft Teams as the program’s official collaboration platform.

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