With a goal of creating more inclusive communities in their home countries, 120 youth leaders from 45 countries came to Baku, Azerbaijan to participate in the Global Youth Leadership Forum.
The unified group of youth - with and without intellectual disabilities - had the opportunity to develop and expand their understanding of how they can drive social inclusion in their howm countries. They explored new strategies and actions with globally recognized experts in leadership to help advance a more inclusive world using the Special Olympics Unified Sports platform.
Representatives from the worlds of sport, business, government, service organizations and international development, such as Special Olympics Global Ambassador Vanja Grbic and Special Olympics International Board member Natalia Vodianova, also played a crucial part at the Forum and worked to inspire the youth leaders.
The youth leaders developed projects in Baku which will be supported through grants from Special Olympics headquarters. Expected results include 8,500 young people being newly engaged in inclusive sports and leadership activities in 250 new Unified Schools and sports clubs worldwide.
The five-day Forum was supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Republic of Azerbaijan as well as Lions Clubs International, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the DC Lion’s Heart Foundation, Qarabağ FK, UNFPA, Azerbaijan Volleyball Federation, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, The Coca-Cola Company and INSEAD.
Special Olympics Africa
Special Olympics Africa was represented by SO Burkina Faso, SO Zimbabwe, SO Kenya, SO South Africa, a Leo from Zimbabwe and a Leo from Malawi. SO Kenya had the privilege of participating in a Unified talks with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) team where they spoke about the SNF projects which started in September in Kenya, one of the grantees.