Inclusion through Sport: Megan’s DREAM Project
After five amazing years of the Global Leadership Academy, we have thousands of alumni. These young leaders are making a difference across the world, and one of the reasons our alumni have such a big impact is because of the DREAM Project! The development and presentation of the DREAM project is the cornerstone activity of the Senior Global Leadership Academy. This is an opportunity for participants to combine their passions, values, and skills into a community service project that they will complete once they return home.
Megan Owens from Chilliwack, Canada attended the Senior Global Leadership Academy in England in 2019, and we are excited to share our conversation with her about making her DREAM Project a reality!
We hope that her amazing project will inspire you, and if you’re ready to unlock your leadership skills this summer and create your own DREAM Project, apply for the Global Leadership Academy today.
When did you first realize you had a passion for inclusion?
“I started volunteering with Special Olympics Swimming in 2016. I had never really been exposed to people with intellectual disabilities until this opportunity came about. Over the past 4 years I gained valuable connections and relationships with the athletes and got to know them all as individuals. I began to be aware of stigmas and perspectives surrounding those with special needs and I wanted to change this by advocating for inclusion. I chose to do this through sports because for me personally sports are a big part of my life and they have been life changing for me. This is the same for those with special needs and everyone else in the world! Sports are universal and almost everyone has a connection to them and that’s why it’s easy to include others while participating in sports. Over the years my passion for inclusion and Special Olympics has grown because of my experiences and connections built.”
How did the Global Leadership Academy help you to develop and realize your DREAM Project?
“The Global Leadership Academy was a great opportunity for me to share my project to other people. I was able to get advice and have mentors to help me get my project off of the ground. I felt safe and supported to share my ideas here because of how passionate the staff are about helping youth find their voices. When I attended Powerful Youth, I was one of the older students attending so I learned many leadership skills each and every day, even if it was just cleaning my room with my room mates. I was a leader each and every day. The two weeks taught me how to put my project into words and how to pitch it to others so they will realize my passion as well. Powerful Youth made me realize that my project is possible and the impact it will have on others for inclusion in sport.”
What was the most important thing you learned at GLA that helped you with your DREAM Project?
“GLA helped me find my voice and helped me to gain confidence. It’s hard to put yourself out there and advocate for something that you believe in. At GLA everyone believed in me and was supportive of my dreams. The confidence I gained in England transferred back home to Canada and helped me to complete my project!”
What was the biggest obstacle in bringing your DREAM Project to life? How did you overcome it?
“Completing my project hasn’t been easy. One obstacle I had to overcome was when I was contacting the schools, some of them didn’t take me seriously because of my age. They didn’t want someone young like me wasting their time. I overcame this by just contacting as many elementary schools as possible and taking the ones that did say yes as a major victory! I also had an amazing team of volunteers helping to make this project a success. I had Rachel Simes, a special education teacher who was my co- project coordinator and also about 10 athletes and student volunteers who came on event days.”
What has been the best or most memorable moment for you in the process of developing and completing your DREAM Project? Why?
“This is a really hard question because after every day that I’ve spent at the different schools I come out extremely motivated and empowered by the power of inclusion. Every event I teach about inclusion I am also learning more about it. Some of my favourite responses (at the end of the events) to what is inclusion are: “love”, “inclusion can be anywhere or anytime”, “happiness and acceptance regardless of the differences”. Each of these responses made me smile and it really showed me the success of our project. … Every young student that made me smile and surprised me by their power of inclusion was a memorable moment for me and I will never forget them. While I was completing my project, I was able to include many people including Special Olympics athlete volunteers. It was super cool to see them take charge and show leadership in front of the students. I was also able to include some of my family members as volunteers which was cool to invite them to join what I am passionate about and to have them so what I’ve working hard to plan.”
What is the most important thing you have learned so far from your DREAM
“My DREAM project has taught me that youth are powerful and we can make a difference! Our ideas our valuable and important. From my experience with my DREAM project I have learned that peer to peer influence is extremely important. Lots of other youth have either seen my presentation or heard about it through me. This is important because by doing this project I have also inspired other youth to take action on something that they are passionate about. My project has given me hope in the younger generation of youth. After doing my project I am confident that we are currently the generation of inclusion!”
What would you say to other youth who want to lead their own project or event, but too intimidated or like they cannot make a difference?
“Find your passion and go with it. Do what you feel will make a difference because I guarantee it will! If you don’t know what your passionate about that’s okay too, think of a problem in your community that you want changed and form a creative idea based off of that to fix it. You don’t have to fix the whole problem by yourself, just start small and progress from there… . The difference that you make will be meaningful if it’s big, small or anything in between. Through it all you have to be true to yourself and just be you. Every individual is unique and bring different ideas/perspectives to the table so you need to be YOU to the fullest!”
Want to show support and follow along with Megan’s project? You can find the project on Instagram at @inclusionrevolutionsports.
Using the power of experience-based learning, Powerful Youth is an award winning social enterprise dedicated to providing the best leadership training for youth world wide, helping them uncover purpose, fueled by their passions, to create positive and lasting change in themselves and their communities.
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