A couple of weeks ago three of my staff and I had the opportunity to go to a Special Olympics North America Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over 700 people were in attendance, and not only was it a great reminder of the scope and depth of our Movement, but a promising look into the future regarding how the younger generation is changing the way our world sees those who are challenged with intellectual disabilities. Through participation in Special Olympics initiatives, young people are speaking, playing, and living unified.
One youth initiative Special Olympics New Mexico has embraced is the Young Athletes Program- which partners pre-school children with intellectual disabilities (buddies) and fourth and fifth grade students, who during the course of their school day work with their buddies on sport skill development. By the time it’s all said and done, these fourth and fifth graders are changed and because of it – they are creating a change that no other generation has succeeded at doing. It’s something our young people are excited about, and just by listening, you can’t help but be excited with them. Meet one of New Mexico’s next generation of leaders – Ryan Jones. If you watch this more than once – you will love him twice as much.