Students from Around the World to Gather at Youth Summit to Promote Acceptance and Change

Special Olympics International
Wednesday, 18 June 2003

Students with and without mental retardation from 17 countries will collaborate in a mission to promote acceptance when they attend the 2nd Special Olympics Global Youth Summit to be held from 21-29 June in Dublin, Ireland. Thirty-eight students from Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Lebanon, Namibia, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, South Africa and the United States will attend this educational exchange of ideas and opinions, held in conjunction with the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The Global Youth Summit will serve as a catalyst for bringing greater recognition of Special Olympics in schools throughout the world. All 38 students have dedicated the next two years to creating a plan that will strengthen Special Olympics in their schools and communities and help change attitudes by promoting acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

"This program will get youngsters thinking in a more positive way, and at the end their attitudes will change toward people with mental challenges," said 13-year old Kamna Prem from New Dehli, India. "Everyone will realize that they are no different." Prem is one of 19 youth who will partner with students with mental retardation during the week's events.

The 2003 Global Youth Summit will focus on seven important tasks:

  • Discuss ways that organizers of Special Olympics can meets the needs of today's athletes, volunteers, coaches and family members
  • Share their ideas with Special Olympics about ways to reverse stereotypical attitudes about people with disabilities
  • Report on the athletes who are competing at the World Games and transmit the stories back to their schools electronically
  • Host a Special Olympics Get Into It information booth and activity center as part of the Olympic Town program
  • Serve as the stars in a television program that discusses youth today as leaders of the Special Olympics movement
  • Conduct live web casts and video conferences from the Summit to schools and youth agencies globally
  • Upon returning to their schools, expand on the opportunities for youth to become involved with Special Olympics in the school and community.

    The Summit will begin with a "Journalism and Photojournalism 101" session where students will learn tips from seasoned journalists so they can send their schools stories from the World Games. Students will also participate in a Web-based "Get Into It" discussion where they will talk about issues related to their mission.

    In alignment with the theme "Changing Attitudes: One at a Time," the highlight of the Summit will be the Global Youth Forum, a televised open discussion where students will share their views about stereotypes and attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities with educational leaders, celebrities and government officials from around the world.

    Timothy Shriver, President and CEO of Special Olympics, believes the young people who are taking part in the Global Youth Summit are preparing to lead a global awakening. "These youth will arrive in Dublin with big ideas that will change the attitudes of billions of people from around the world. They will demand nothing less than to have adults join them by following their lead as messengers in their schools, villages, towns, cities and communities," said Shriver.

    For more information, or to contact Special Olympics International, see their website at:

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