An Advocate for Unified Teams
By Ryan Atkinson, 15, and Angela Wegscheider, 16
Scholastic News Online Student Reporters, Alaska


June 23—As a Special Olympics Global Messenger, Stanley Baciewski not only promotes the Special Olympics movement. He is also an advocate for unified teams. A unified team includes both disabled and nondisabled members. Stanley plays on unified teams in basketball and softball.

"Being on a unified team gave me the chance to make new friends and as a result, I feel more welcome in my town," the 38-year-old Connecticut athlete said.

Stanley has been involved in Special Olympics for 28 years, competing in swimming, basketball, downhill skiing, track, and softball. At this year's Special Olympics World Games in Dublin, Ireland, Stanley is competing in swimming.

Stanley has had to work hard to prepare for these Games. For the past nine years he has practiced twice a week. He will show off his expertise in swimming for the first time this year.

Besides his work as an athlete, Stanley is one of the original Global Messengers for Special Olympics. He has been involved as a Global Messenger for three years now. Global Messengers are Special Olympians who travel the world speaking about the mission, philosophy, and benefits of Special Olympics.

"Being a Global Messenger has helped me learn how to help other people learn," says Stanley.

Stanley lives with his mother and older sister. He graduated from a public high school and now works at a local supermarket in his hometown. When asked what his favorite movie was, he replied, Indiana Jones. Also, when asked what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, he replied in a very excited voice, "My family is making a movie." He didn't want to give details, but after seeing his face light up, you could tell it was a very important thing to him.

"The best thing in the world is Special Olympics," Stanley says. "It is all over the world and it has given me the chance to show my ability while exercising and getting a healthy body."