From June 5th through the 12th the Special Olympics, USA Games will be held in Orlando, Florida. The 2022 USA Games will unite more than 5,500 athletes from all 50 states and the Caribbean to compete in 19 Olympics-style team and individual sports. Special Olympics Montana is sending a delegation of 16 athletes, four Unified Partners, and five coaches to represent Team Montana. A part of the Team Montana delegation will be one Hamilton High School student and one Hamilton High School alum attending the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, Youth Leadership Experience.
Special Olympics Montana athlete Claire Carmody and Unified Partner Fern Stewert are overjoyed with the opportunity to not only represent the youth of Montana but to learn more about creating an inclusive world for all abilities. The pair were chosen from applicants statewide because of their dedication and experience in promoting inclusive practices at Hamilton High School.
The goal of this conference is to engage young Unified pairs to be the future leaders of the Special Olympics movement. Unified pairs will serve in authentic volunteer roles, engage in educational and interactive experiences, and shadow experienced key volunteers at USA Games. These experiences will provide the tools for pairs like Claire and Fern to become more deeply connected to the Special Olympics movement as committed volunteers, teammates, and friends.
Both Claire and Fern are part of the Hamilton High School Spurs Group, a Unified Club that brings together students with and without disabilities to promote inclusion in the school. Projects that Claire and Fern have worked on are Inclusion Rallies, Special Olympics fundraisers, pep assemblies, Unified Sports, Capitol Hill Days, Athlete Leadership training and Unified Track.
What does the experience mean for the pair?
“Special Olympics to me is about witnessing the joy of my teammates when they succeed and hearing the cheers… watching my school change for the better as we include all students… and holding the hands of my teammates to encourage them and help them share their stories,” said Stewert. “It’s about changing lives and I have the blessing of helping to spur the world and ‘Choose to Include.’”