Leading for Inclusion: Catalina & Francisco

The following post was written by Francisco and Catalina, 2019 Global Youth Leadership Summit Participants from Argentina. Catalina speaks about her experience being both a Lions Club International LEO and a Special Olympics Youth Leader. Check out their experience at the Summit, and how they plan to#innovateforinclusion in their community!

We are Special Olympics Youth Leaders, Francisco and Catalina, the inseparable team from Argentina. Even though the two of us started our journey with Special Olympics only a short time ago, we truly feel part of this movement and are eager spread Special Olympics all around our city.

I, Francisco, started competing as a Special Olympics athlete only two years ago. I’ve always been a supportive person. This is mainly due to the fact that when I’m playing a sport, whether individual or with a team, I feel that I’m equal to the others.

I first experienced Special Olympics through a school focused on sports in my city called “Crecer Juntos.” I found myself surrounded by a group of friends that immediately included me as a teammate. I started training there two times a week and I joined the football team and even took up swimming. Through swimming, I was able to meet Catalina . Through Special Olympics, I have developed new skills such as leadership and empathy with my teammates. It is because of this that I’m always trying to become a better athlete, better leader and a better person.

As part of the Youth Summit, I had the opportunity to meet new people from all around the word and exchange ideas of inclusion with them. My hope would be for everyone to realize the power of Special Olympics and how it can give young people with and without disabilities the opportunity to lead together.

I, Catalina, started taking part in Special Olympics through the Lions Club International LEO Club, when they invited us to be volunteers in a tournament. Since that experience, I decided I wanted to commit myself to this organization. I started by enrolling in one of the schools focusing on sports in Santa Rosa. From this, I gained a great personal growth that made me want to share my experience with others so they could understand the impact of Special Olympics.

By being a part of both Special Olympics and Lions Club International, I soon realized that both organizations share the same vision of making an impact in communities all over the world. When working together, we can make an even bigger impact. Both organizations make it a priority to empower leaders to make positive changes. At the Youth Summit, I was wonderfully surprised to meet LEOS from different countries that were also part of Special Olympics.

When I was given the opportunity to take part in this amazing experience, I really couldn’t believe that it was true. In that moment I started analyzing our community to find a project that satisfied our needs. During the Youth Summit I was able to learn how to expand that project, but was also encouraged to take a step forward and make changes now. I believe that Youth Leaders are the “motor” in charge of revolution, and now is our time to make the change. An inclusive society is possible because we can make it possible!! #innovateforinclusion

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