Over the past year and a half, the pandemic has resulted in school closures around the world and forced 1.2 billion children and young people outside school. One of the hardest hit countries has been Indonesia, where schools are still closed and millions of students continue to be equated with the ongoing effects of the public health crisis.
Frustrated by the lack of opportunities to connect, four youth leaders from different parts of Special Olympics Indonesia formed a team online and devised a plan. Together, they launched the Creative Digital Campaign: a series of five webinars aimed at positioning Indonesian youth as leaders in the inclusion movement, plus raising awareness about people with disabilities through social media. In early 2021 with schools still closed and restricted Play Unified: Learn Unified activities planned due to government lockdown, these youth leaders launched the first webinar focusing on content planning on social media. The event was a great success with over 200 young people from Indonesia. Based on their success, the young leaders continued to host webinars each month with increasing viewership each time.
To mark the end of the creative digital campaign, the scoring of youth participants was presented with a challenge: using the skills learned from the webinars, they were to create a social media campaign highlighting the talent and gifts of people with intellectual disability. Teams of young people with and without disabilities were called in to tackle the challenge together and were encouraged to put their leadership to the test and develop strong ties.
Two young women who participated in the creative digital campaign, Stephanie and Stany, shared their thoughts on the impact of the campaign and the challenge that followed. Stephanie, a young woman with Down Syndrome, said, “I learned to be a social media promoter and use my voice to speak for myself and others.” Stany, a young woman with no intellectual disability, said: “The webinars gave me new skills in using video and various storytelling methods to share the incredible impact that Special Olympics athletes have had on my life.”
Both Stephanie and Stany are grateful for the experience of connecting digitally in a socially remote country. The youth leaders who developed the creative digital campaign are proud of the impact they were able to make and look forward to the day when these digital connections can become personal connections.