The Power of Friendship

This post was originally published on the Special Olympics Project UNIFY blog.

William and Emily of Special Olympics Missouri know firsthand the true power of unified sports — friendship!
 
My name is William Reese, I am 16 and am a partner with Special Olympics at my school, Warrenton High School in Warrenton, Missouri.
 
What I really like about Unified Sports are all the opportunities I have been given.  I am a member of the Youth Activation Committee (YAC) and through YAC I have done a lot of awesome things.  We have had a lot of training on promoting unified sports and how to promote it in our school.  I have been able to go to Mizzou and promote Spreading the Word to End the Word. I am going this summer to volunteer at sports camp and in just two weeks I am going with my friend Emily Carroll and some other people to Denver Colorado for a Unified Sports workshop.
 
Through all of the things I have had the opportunity to do with Unified Sports, the most important are the friendships I have been able to build.  I have met Emily and we team up a lot for YAC events, and when she gets nervous, I am there to help her.
 
Being a leader
This last weekend at a unified basketball game we played a team that was younger than our high school team, so we did not play as aggressively as we normally would.  All of the partners were able to talk with our teammates about why we were not going to play as aggressively as we usually do. You could see how much it meant to the athletes on the other team and it was a great feeling, every time the other team scored we cheered just like with our own teammates!  As partner we were there to lead our teammates, but the athletes were also given the opportunity to be leaders.  Being a part of Special Olympics Unified Sports really teaches you to be a true team player!
 
My friend Emily
My friend Emily Carroll is 15 and has been a Special Olympics athlete at in our school district since she was 8.  What Emily likes about Special Olympics Unified Sports are “all of my friends.”  Emily is a member of YAC and she was really excited about going to Mizzou to promote Spread the Word to End the Word, what she really liked was “spending the day with James Franklin, her friend.”  James is a first string quarterback for Mizzou and he was there volunteering his time!
 
Emily has made a lot of friends through unified sports and she has become much more outgoing, I see her coming out of her shell more all the time!  She even went to the Torch Run Kickoff Conference a few months ago to introduce some speakers.  When I heard Emily was going to do this I was amazed because she gets so nervous, but she did an amazing job!
 
The end that is not the end…
Emily and I both really enjoy unified sports, it has changed us both so much and it is something we will both be participating in for a really long time!

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