Special Olympics advocates take to social media to #UnlockInclusion

Updated: Apr. 1, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - This week was supposed to be the marker for the 11th annual End the R-Word rally for Special Olympics. Athletes, advocates, and friends were scheduled to gather at the State House on Tuesday. But, due to the pandemic, they had to get creative.

Thankfully, the internet is always available. While always available, it is not necessarily always positive and inclusive. Special Olympics advocates statewide are working to change that and that's how this year's hashtag theme was born.

“This really gives you a lot of hope,” said Barbara Oswald, the VP of Programming for Special Olympics South Carolina. “This is seeing a generation that is empathetic and is ready to do what’s right to try and make their communities more positive and embrace their differences.”

Peer advocates from some of the 330 Special Olympics Unified schools across the state are taking to digital. They're sharing videos, photos and inspirational messages on social media today with the hashtag #UnlockInclusion. They're messages of inclusion, kindness, and how being involved in Special Olympics programming at their schools has changed them and their community for the better.

"I believe that today and every day we should emulate what it means to be kind, non-judgmental and showing everyone that they can do whatever they set their mind to,” said Alexis Hunter, a student advocate from Converse College.

Alexis’ selfie-style posting was one of countless others offering their insights on working with special needs athletes and programming across the state.

You can find more inspiring messages online by searching the hashtag online, #UnlockInclusion. Special Olympics is urging you to share yours and lift up Special Olympics athletes across the state right now who are missing their teammates and programming.

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