Innovators of the Week: Stephanus and Yofan

The following post was written by Stephanus and Yofan, two Special Olympics youth leaders from Indonesia. The pair make it their mission to strengthen inclusion in their community. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!

I have always had faith in youth. Their keen eyes can see the problems of exclusion and injustice and have the motivation to do something to tackle them. At the same time, Special Olympics has always been very strong in leading a globally unifying movement by challenging youth to make a change. I do believe, by combining the power of youth and Special Olympics, I can make a great impact in my community. That is why I proposed the conducting of the very first unified event outside the capital city of Indonesia.

At the beginning, it was tough. I did not know many people in the city and challenges came one after the other. One of the most difficult tasks was dealing with local government officials. They asked for a whopping amount of money from the committee. With the help of the SO Indonesia sub-program coordinator, the negotiation went smoothly and the government supported and attended our event without having us pay any unnecessary expenses. The committee started with only 20 people who I have stayed connected with ever since. As the time went by, we were able to ignite a passion for inclusion in other youth leaders. Due to our efforts, 31 more people joined us as volunteers, to which we delegated certain tasks. They excelled and performed extraordinarily.

Funding was an interesting part of executing the project. By the time the grant was being wired in, our currency was being devalued. However, we could still afford more than the proposed budget. Due to our intention to utilize as much of the grant as we could, we decided to hire a marching band group from a local primary school. Our thought was, if we hired a marching band, the blaring sound could attract more attention. Our plan worked. When the event took place, the boom of the marching band lured surrounding individuals to look at our signboards that advocated inclusion in the community. From this experience, it became clear to me that youth leaders are always eager to make positive change in the community. It is our job to reach them and give them greater opportunities to make change.

By joining the committee to organize this project, I have had the privilege of sharing my ideas with others. I had the chance to participate in and lead teams in various capacities. Although I mainly focused on designing the event, I did handle some small tasks trusted by the committee. I have always been amazed by the level of confidence the committee placed in my ability to perform multiple tasks. Each opportunity I have had has helped me grow personally and professionally. After spending months with the organizing committee, I now look forward to every chance in the future I will have to share my ideas, activate youth, and help others built a more inclusive society.

The 2018 Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant initiative is supported through partnerships with Hasbro, Inc., The Samuel Family Foundation, theOffice 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

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