This is Ned. He is an avid sailor, a student at Loyola Marymount University and an advocate for social action. From fifth grade through high school, Ned participated as a partner with Unified Sports, an inclusive sports program that unites Special Olympics athletes and partners as teammates for training and competition.
Ned got involved in the program because he wanted to help kids, and he stayed involved because of the friendships formed and lessons learned. “I learned from these athletes how it’s so important to have a good attitude and to never give up.”
In his first year of college, Ned decided to reach out to the L.A. office of Special Olympics to start a Unified Sports program on his campus. His idea has been approved, he's recruited volunteers and coordinated sites, and now he’s reaching out to the families of potential athletes to form teams.
Because of his work with individuals with intellectual disabilities, Ned is also a campus advocate for the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, which asks people to pledge to stop saying the “R-word” ('retard(ed)') as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.
My kids have taken sailing lessons from Ned for the last few years, but really I just send them for Ned lessons. We can all learn something from him.