When we speak about the European Youth Goals (EYG) linked to young people with intellectual disabilities we should point out that all 11 EYG concern our target group as we are all aiming towards an inclusive society where people off all abilities are offered the same opportunities.
But let’s start this dialogue by listing the 11 European Youth Goals developed within the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027:
- Connecting EU with Youth
- Equality of All Genders
- Inclusive Societies
- Information & Constructive Dialogue
- Mental Health & Wellbeing
- Moving Rural Youth Forward
- Quality Employment for All
- Quality Learning
- Space and Participation for All
- Youth Organizations & European Programs
And by saying that, all young people of determination are entitled to reach each one of these goals. Because they need to integrate in their mindset since this early developmental stage that they have equal opportunities to others.
Of course, that some goals are primary to others when we talk about ID youth as their need to be included in society is deeper than others. Inclusive societies are one of the main goals in Special Olympics movement and we empower young people to request an equal place at the table of the society by our day-to-day work: unified sports and non-sports activities, unified schools, youth leadership. By giving the proper space and empowering the voice of youth to express their needs, as well as showing the general public that inclusion works is always a good idea. And when you use sports as a catalyst, society opens in a smoother way.
Space and participation for All strengthens young people’s democratic participation and autonomy as well as provides dedicated youth spaces in all areas of society. In Special Olympics we created the Youth Leadership program just to empower ID youth to lead the way to inclusion. By creating national, regional or global Youth Councils and Committees and inviting ID Youth to advocate and speak up at different events offers the environment to stimulate the participation for youth of all abilities to the reorientation of the society. This is also linked to Youth Organizations & European Programs goal which ensures equal access for all young people to youth organizations and European youth programs, building a society based on European values and identity. Special Olympics youth has created in the last years the organizational environment for youth to express and voice up by gathering youth representatives in dedicated spaces, but also inviting them to participate in other environments as youth representatives. Sport clubs and sport organizations or events have the potential to include youth in a natural way. On the sports field, youth of all abilities grow a sense of affiliation to a sports community more easily than in other environments.
Considering this changing society in terms of inclusion and poverty reduction the new EYG (now 11) could be:
11 – Leading Youth
In Special Olympics we put a lot of effort in the power of “empowering” people. When you value the abilities of a person, that person earns a growth of self confidence that puts into move a lot of that abilities towards success. Giving youth the trust of a leading role, celebrating they as champions on the sports field, respecting their voice and inspiring them to express their needs creates more self-aware youth generations that learn how to lead the way to inclusion. We think that the Leading Youth goal is directly linked to the 11th goal Youth Organizations & European Programs and it represents the direct follow up as it is not only necessary to ensures equal access for all young people to youth organizations but also to empower them to became leaders of a unified generation, to offer them skills and abilities to grow into leaders than can be gamechangers of the society into a more inclusive one.