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Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – A Constant Impact

Name: Bailey Cunningham
From: Bryant , Arkansas
Grade: 11
School: Bryant High School
Votes: 0

Club
day is one of the biggest days for freshmen, and 3 years ago, I made
the decision to join “partners club” which is apart of Special
Olympics Unified Champion School program, and challenges typical and
atypical students through playing sports. I joined this club because
a lot of my friends joined the club and some of my mentors from
church encouraged me to join the club. As a member of partners club,
you’re encouraged to build relationships with atypical students
(athletes) by volunteering at events, by playing on a team or
guiding teams, so at the end of the year we had a large track and
field event where all of us members volunteered. I immediately fell
in love with all of the athletes and knew I wanted to keep
volunteering and sharing the joy of the athletes through their
victories. My sophomore year, I volunteered by playing unified
volleyball and floor hockey along with track and field. I also began
volunteering with our youth activation committee (YAC) which
encourages youth to advocate for inclusion through volunteering at
events. The summer before my junior year, I volunteered at our state
summer special Olympic Games and went to sports camp to help lead a
team of adults and build bonds. I became Vice President of partners
club my junior year and continue volunteering for Special Olympics
Arkansas (SOAR) by organizing events for our school and selecting our
partners who volunteer. Because of my volunteer experience with SOAR,
I was invited to be a youth delegate for the special Olympic USA
games. I learned a lot about inclusion, and now I am president of our
partners club and focus on advocating everyday. Over the past years,
I have donated about 300 hours to Special Olympics Arkansas, but I
advocate everyday through my word choice and actions towards people
with intellectual disabilities. After going to the USA games, my
leadership role increased, and I am challenged to reach partners all
over the state and balance my role as a delegate and a student. When
I work with athletes, whether coaching them in games, helping them at
sports camp, or cheering them in the stands, I find the most joy
seeing their excitement when they win a game or see the crowd who’s
supporting them, knowing their hard work paid off. Because of my
involvement in SOAR, I realized I want to work with people with
special needs by being a speech therapist and supporting any Special
Olympics through an office or volunteer position. In the future, I
want to serve in an international Special Olympics organization and
improve inclusion in another country because countries will not
progress until we provide equal opportunities for everyone. In the
next few years, I would love to look back on SOAR and see the
improvement of inclusion in my high school and all over the state and
not have to worry about people with special needs facing the
disadvantages they do now.


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