Closing ceremonies a beginning for Global Youth Summit
By Suzanne Freeman
|Manwadu Rofhiwa, 17, celebrates at the closing ceremonies of the Special Olympics World Games in Dublin, Ireland. Manwadu and (behind him) Kamna Prem, 13, are two of the 38 student members of the Global Youth Summit. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)|
"Your role now is to send us advice and ideas, and to spread the word of Special Olympics," said GYS leader Ron Vederman, at a meeting before the ceremonies.
|Members of the Global Youth Summit, now the Global Youth Advisory Council for the Special Olympics, pose for one last group photo at the World Games closing ceremonies at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)|
"It's been a good roller-coaster ride," said athlete Ryan Atkinson, 15, of Alaska. Ryan stole the show at the MTV taping when he moonwalked for Rev. Run.
The group will now help the Special Olympics planning committee prepare for the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. They will promote the "Special Olympics Get Into It" teaching program to help recruit more athletes. "SO Get Into It" encourages unified sports teams that integrate disabled and nondisabled students.
"When I was first chosen for the program, I was nervous. I wasn't sure I wanted to come," said member Kamna Prem, 13, of India. As she got to know her athlete partner, Mira Chandra, 12, she began to feel better. "Mira was the only person I had ever met with a disability. I didn't know how to react."
As she and Mira got to know each other, they became friends. Kamna says her attitude quickly changed toward people with disabilities.
"This has been a great experience for me," she said. "I learned to focus on the people and their abilities and not their disabilities. I want to spread that message."