Special Olympics

Curating action-oriented events on a timely topic

What they wanted

For the first event of their 50th year, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia wanted to hold a meaningful conversation on refugees with intellectual disabilities and the role of inclusive sport as a mechanism to bring them from the margins of society. They wanted attending delegates to leave the event having made tangible commitments to positive action.

What we did

With end-to-end event services that combined compelling content with inspirational speakers, we took the delegates – each of whom had a different level of experience and understanding of the topics – on an inspirational and informative journey that resulted in concrete solutions and commitments to action.

Using our global network, we were able to broaden Special Olympics’ reach with guests that encompassed senior UN officials, NGOs delivering on the ground and international sporting organizations.

Our multi-faceted team successfully delivered on event logistics, production, PR, communications and branding. We scripted and stage managed the entire event and provided an experienced emcee. And our post-event evaluation resulted in a comprehensive feedback document for Special Olympics to continue the conversation.


What happened - Phase 1

In January 2018, the On the Margins – Refugee Forum took place in Amsterdam featuring 27 international speakers and an audience that was overwhelmingly comprised – 75% — of senior level decision makers (VP, CEO, Chairman, Director).

The event received wide acclaim from attendees who were both moved and motivated, resulting in numerous commitments and new relationships and partnerships for Special Olympics. Our comprehensive event communications plan achieved broad coverage, including The Daily Mail, Huffington Post, AFP and Yahoo Sports.

As part of Special Olympics’ relationship with the International Sports Press Association (AIPS), young reporters who attended the event produced well received short films.

What happened - Phase 2

Building on the success of On the Margins, later that year, Special Olympics contracted thinkBeyond — this time to deliver its flagship 50th Anniversary event, the 2018 Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Forum. Held in Baku, Azerbaijan from September 24-28, the forum brought together 120 young people — with and without intellectual disabilities — from 45 countries with 100 adult leaders from Special Olympics accredited programs, schools, sports clubs and local communities, as well as government officials, Olympians, civic leaders and educators to devise projects towards creating an inclusive and more tolerant world.

Once again, we provided comprehensive content and branding services. thinkBeyond Director of Strategy, Radha Balani, also co-hosted the Forum.

Across the five days, over 300 delegates came together to learn and take part in interactive panel discussions and breakout sessions on the power of Special Olympics’ Unified Sports program and youth engagement. The young leaders received the tools, knowledge and resources to execute their vision of inclusion in their communities, and to lead projects that will transform schools, communities, provinces, states and countries into centers of inclusion. Adult leaders were trained on methods and techniques to integrate and support the impact of these inspirational young leaders.

The projects developed at this unique global youth gathering are expected to engage over 8,500 young people in inclusive sports and leadership activities in 250 new Unified Schools and sports clubs worldwide.

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