Members from the Youth Activation Council met in December 2011. Below are some of their responses to their personal experience. Enjoy!
I had an amazing time at the Youth Activation Summit. I also got to meet some wonderful people and got to play bocce ball. I am so glad I got to participate in this wonderful experience. I loved how everyone there, were all looking for acceptance and spreading the word to end the word. When I first started YAC I didn’t really know that many people in our council, I feel I got to know them better, also I realized how great of people they are. I liked learning more about Special Olympics, and how it came to be. Another thing I liked about the YAS was the strength finder assessment. The strength finder, showed that the strengths on my paper really described me. All the activities were very helpful, and I learned more about other people’s strengths. Also about my own and how to use them for project unify. Also the public speaker helped me with talking in front of people, because I tend to be little shy. Another activity I really liked was the 3 words activity, it was very creative, and looked really cool at the end. When we played bocce ball that was a lot of fun, it was different from how I learned how to play it, I liked this way to play it. I got to meet new people during playing this game. Another thing I liked was talking about what we going to do at our schools. Jennifer, Sierra, and I came up with an idea for Rocky Mountain, I can’t wait to see it happen. Also I like signing the spread the word to end the word poster, to continue not use the r word. In conclusion it was definitely a memorable experience that I loved going to. I am so glad I get to be part of something so great.
—Julie English, Rocky Mountain
During the YAC Summit I had a great time. I met so many new people, and got to know the people in our YAC group better, and I learned that they are great people. I also loved playing bocce ball, I had played before but it was fun playing with new people and making new friends. Also I liked learning my strengths for the strength finder, I got to learn how I apply my strengths to my everyday life. Another thing that I liked is learning what other peoples strengths were and how some were like mine and how some were different. I liked how we all came together to spread the word and to learn about acceptance. Everyone there was so accepting and nice and we all got along. I also got great ideas for what Julie, Sierra, and I are going to do to unify Rocky Mountain High school, I can’t wait to get started on some of the ideas we came up with. Another thing about the weekend that I enjoyed was signing the spread the word to end the word poster, and learning the history and about Special Olympics. All the activities were very helpful. Overall I had a great weekend, YAS is a great experience and I am so glad I went.
—Jennifer English, Rocky Mountain
Over the weekend I had the privilege of attending a retreat event for Project Unify. Project Unify is a program from the Special Olympics to empower youth from local middle, junior high, and senior high schools to promote inclusion and awareness. AMAZING program.
One of my very favorite programs that Project Unify is helping to push is the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. It’s teaching people about eliminating the use of the R-word (retard or retarded) and replacing it with “Respect.” (PS- If you use this word, please stop. It’s unnecessary. And can often be hurtful.)
Here’s the thing. It’s still a fairly new program. And yet, there are a large handful of kids all across our state (and around the country) who are helping to educate other kids their age. And it’s working.
Kids are learning that being different means nothing more than variety. People are people and are valued for who they are, not the traits that they might possess. Walking around with blinders on may help us get through the day faster, but we will be unaware of a world of beauty and awesomeness and amazing people. There are little miracles happening all around us and if we don’t look around to see them, we might miss something that could change our lives.
I challenge you to look around today and tomorrow and include just one person that you might not normally include. Maybe one person that you normally don’t even see. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That is what this group of kids is doing. They are making a difference. They are learning and growing and changing and helping other people to see what they see. It’s inspiring. And I see endless possibilities for making a difference.
– Nichole Stull, Village
This weekend was amazing! I went to the YAC summit and had so much fun! I learned so much about myself and the other people I will be working alongside. I met so many awesome people. Everyone was so nice and easy to talk to! We were able to put our ideas together and come up with some pretty amazing events to hold at our schools! One I’m particularly excited about is the rivalry basketball game; Rocky vs. Meridian. We plan on hosting a Special Olympics night for all our kids in the special education department and set up a booth to get people involved more! I loved working on the Strengths Finder test! I’m really into psychology and sociology so learning about ways people work together and seeing the other strengths people have was really cool for me! It helped me gain a lot of insight about myself and how to work with people who will bring out my strengths and also challenge me too. Bocce ball was awesome! It brought out a lot of competition in people. I think it will become a popular Olympic sport! I was really happy to have been able to hear what the professional speaker had to say. I learned a lot on how to give speeches and talk in front of others, which is huge for me because I hate with a passion speaking in front of others. Her tips made me feel more comfortable. The best thing for me was learning about campaigns and events that worked for others and what didn’t. I was really happy to receive so many resources to use. All the ideas swirling around in my head made me really excited to start changing our school and getting people involved in something I really care about.
—Sierra Pontius, Rocky Mountain
This past weekend was my very first Youth Activation Council Summit. It was very neat to see all of the YAC members not just from Boise. I made a lot of new friends when I was there.
My favorite part of the summit was when we talked about how to become a better speaker. I was told not to be nervous when talking in front of a group. We had a guest speaker who helped us with this idea. I learned how to have good posture when speaking and to just relax. After the guest speaker I really think I could do an assembly for my school and tell them about Special Olympics.
The night that we had the Bocce Ball challenge was so much fun. I hope that Bocce Ball can become a sport for next fall. If it was to become a sport I would sign up to play the sport for the fall.
The summit was a blast to go to. I learned so much about how to start it in my school. I hope that I can go next year to the Summit.
– Courtney Lynch, Centennial
For more information on how to become a part of YAC, please email Shanna, at email@example.com. Be a Fan!