Youth Leaders take Hyannisport
In July, several youth leaders from Massachusetts had the opportunity to attend an invite only 50th anniversary event hosted by Special Olympics International at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport. Part of this weekend included a youth summit where they met fellow youth leaders, educators, celebrities and Special Olympics staff, all on a mission to make schools more inclusive.
The youth leaders from Massachusetts, Bryna St. Pierre, Emma Ganley, Elyse Whittemore and Sydney Meininger joined students from many other states to share ideas about how they can make their communities more inclusive and realizing how much power they have as students.
Bryna St. Pierre and Emma Ganley from Auburn High School share the experience in their own words.
Bryna St. Pierre, Student at Auburn High School
“My weekend in Hyannis Port was a once in a lifetime experience. I was one of 9 youth leaders that attended the 50 years of Special Olympics movement at the Kennedy Compound. I am honored that I was chosen to attend this special celebration and will never forget this opportunity.
The weekend was jam packed with many fun activities including speaking in front of people about friendship with Emma Ganley, round table discussions about friendship, clubs, and school inclusion, and a scavenger hunt where Emma and I were team leaders. We played volleyball, soccer, bocce, and flag football on the grounds of the Kennedy compound, and I went sailing for the first time with Rory Kennedy.
There were many important people at the celebration. We met Tim Shriver, Maria Shriver, Rory Kennedy, Sharon Bollenbach, and many others.
The weekend inspired me by seeing all the people who are supporting Special Olympics and inclusion within our community. Inclusion is so important at every level and should be in every school and work place. I will work hard to be inclusive and show my school how important it is to include everyone.”
Emma Ganley, Student at Auburn High School
“My experience at Hyannis, was amazing and eye-opening! It was really awesome to meet people from all over the country and world and learn about the unified opportunities that were unique to each place. It was also very eye opening to go into an event of mostly adults and see how interested the adults were in hearing what the youth had to say. Hyannis left me feeling empowered and made me feel like I really do have a voice in the Special Olympics movement.
Some of the events that I participated in were greeting guests coming into dinner, speaking about friendship in Unified Champion Schools, meeting and taking pictures with all different people, playing bocce, flag football, volley ball, and soccer, carrying in the Special Olympics flag, going sailing, swimming in the pool, having a pizza party, leading a scavenger hunt, going on a house tour and of course having lots and lots of dance parties!
Some of the people I listened to speak were Mr. Tim Shriver and Loretta Claiborne. These speakers showed me how powerful our voices are, especially as youth leaders, and how it’s our job to show the world what the Unified Generation is all about. I also met many members of the Shriver and Kennedy family. It was truly an amazing feeling to be spending time with such well known people, but they were so focused on us, and they wanted to hear all of our experiences. Everyone we met had different ideas for the Unified Generation, and this event made us even more excited to make those things happen.
A memorable moment for me, was the Day of Play. There were people from all over the country and even from other countries. There were people that were adults that worked in really high places, and all of us youth. There were people with and without intellectual disabilities. But everyone came together as one, and played all of the different sports. Everyone came together as a team to support one another, even though we had just met minutes before, and I think that showed what the Unified movement is truly about.
Something that really impacted me from the trip to Hyannis, was how important everyone made us as the youth leaders feel. It was really amazing to be in a room full of adults and they wanted to hear our opinion and what we thought because that doesn’t always happen. The trip to Hyannis showed me that we are not alone in our movement in anyway, and we have people from all over the world supporting us and wanting the same things we do for the future!”