Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Architects of Change at Special Olympics

Be an Architect of Change. The theme of the conference my sister Maria organized this week in Long Beach, which served as a call to action for women all over the world to realize that they have the power to make a difference. They don't need to wait for anything (especially not a man!) to make changes in the world.

I couldn't help but think of how powerful this same theme is for Special Olympics. Our entire movement--over 4 million athletes and volunteers all over the world--is based on that simple message: you can make a difference. Welcome others. Give. Play. Unify.

It’s no surprise that many conference participants were also great supporters of Special Olympics. Susan Saint James, Anne Sweeney, Rafer Johnson, Phil Knight, Dr. Jill Biden, Martha Beck, Dr. Mehmet Oz—they’re all on our team. And they were there challenging the world to listen to Maria and to each other--as a massive team of positive energy shouting "whatever it is, go for it!"

I was particularly touched when Martha Beck told me how amazing Special Olympics is in her eyes--a tribute to the power of sport to awaken people to the presence of a positive energy and a trusting community. And then to hear Deepak Chopra and Nicholas Kristof (men who get it!) both echo the message of social and emotional learning and Project Unify: the way to change the destructive patterns of fear and coercion and stigma is through education--engaging young people in values that are open, centered on human dignity, focused on equality.

Those are messages for all of us. The highlight was of course, Maria. She spoke for all of us in reminding us to recognize that it’s time--time to follow our life's calling.

What a joy to be working with so many people in education and sports who are pursuing such wonderful callings as real and powerful Architects of Change.

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