There was amazing energy and excitement in Greece last night as young people from Athens met up with Global Youth Activation Summit leaders from around the world for the Global Youth Rally. The result was a celebration of youth activation that gathered international youth together so they could all proclaim “Ime Mesa,” I’m in!
The evening began with a short program featuring presentations from Edward Barbanell (actor from “The Ringer”), Tim Shriver, Joanna Despotopoulou, Mathew Williams (International Global Messenger), and Special Olympics Serbia Unified Pair Luka Kurcubic and Filip Paunovic. All of the speakers joined in the celebration of young people and stressed the importance of youth taking charge to address tolerance and acceptance and leading the “Dignity Revolution”!
Following the program, it was time for the fun to begin! Musical performances from ONIRAMA, Lavredis Macheritsas, Dimitris Starovas and Alkis Konstantopoulos got the crowd up on their feet and dancing the night away! What amazed me the most was that, despite many of the international youth not understanding the Greek lyrics of the songs, they still connected with the passion, energy and excitement that the music conveyed.
The Youth Rally reminded me of an inspiring quote that Serbian Olympic volleyball player Vladimir “Vanja” Grbić spoke to the Global Youth Activation Summit, “Even if you don’t come from the same country, you speak the same language.”
[slideshow] (Special thanks to Daniel Fink (youth leader and budding photographer) for providing the Youth Rally photos)
Before ending, I also wanted to share two youth perspectives on last night’s Rally. First, Tanealya Hueth from Special Olympics Montana shares her experience from last night and talks about the inspiration and energy she felt in Greece! Then Rene Tippl and Georg Diemat from Special Olympics Austria share their experience at the Youth Rally.
“I thought the Youth Rally was really good. I liked how Tim Shriver talked about dignity in disability and also talked to the youth about this cool event. People are excited to meet the [GYAS] youth and asked us what we were doing at the event. We said we were the youth holding the event and participating in the Global Youth Activation Summit. I also thought the Global Youth Rally was really good because Tim Shriver said we had dignity in each of us and that the youth are taking the charge to turn the world around. I thought Mathew [Williams] did really good and was very positive. Also, Eddie Barbanell was fun. Seeing his face made me cry a little, but then it made me happy. I liked when we had a lot of dancing and fun. We could promote this Youth Rally in our home countries. We could do a Global Youth Rally at night and sell our state truck tickets away and we could also try to have an EKS Day event where someone talks about Special Olympics.” — Tanealya
“It was a big event for the young people from all over the world. Many famous and important people from Special Olympics and some athletes made speeches on the stage. After this, there were popular singers and entertainers. It was a big party and all people had fun together!” — Rene & Georg