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Meet Alvaro and Marina, unified partners from Paraguay who are traveling to Athens this summer for the Global Youth Activation Summit.  Alvaro and Marina work together to raise awareness about Special Olympics in their community and promote acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.

How did you become involved in the Global Youth Activation Program?
Álvaro: The director of the institution where I study asked me if I wanted to participate in Special Olympics Panama.  I accepted with pleasure because I like to have fun with people my age.

Marina: I have been involved in Special Olympics Paraguay as a volunteer for the last four years. I was trained as a volunteer in Panama because I wanted to know more about how young girls can be involved in the program.

How did you meet each other?
Marina: We met in the office of Special Olympics, where I volunteer and Alvaro is an athlete.

Álvaro: We met in the Special Olympics office one afternoon when I went to the first of many meetings for the Panama Youth Rally.

In what activities will you be involved during the 2011 World Summer Games in Greece?
We have selected the sessions that focus on fundraising, raising awareness in our community, social networking, creating a Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day campaign, and organizing youth rallies at home.  We hope to learn much from this summit to reach more people in our country.

What have you done in your schools and your community to promote inclusive activities?
Marina: We organized workshops on my campus and introduced students to Special Olympics. I love to do these activities and I am excited that several students have started to be involved in the program either as volunteers or to play in Unified Sports®.

Alvaro: I have attended the workshops at the College of Marina where I talked about my experience as an athlete leader in Panama.  I have made many new friends there, many of whom have joined the Special Olympics Paraguay Facebook page to monitor our activities in Monse. In my community, everyone from my neighbors to my classmates knows I’m going to Athens and they are very supportive.

How have your classmates responded to the activities you started in your school?
Marina: They have responded in different ways. Some would like to organize a tournament with Olympic athletes, others want to be volunteers, and others are supporting me to help and design goodies for my trip to exchange in Greece.

Alvaro: They are supporting me and giving me advice and suggestions on the gifts I should take to exchange in Greece

What are you looking forward to the most as you travel to Greece?
Álvaro: I’m excited to meet people from other countries who I’ve worked with and who have supported me.  I hope to learn many things to help me reach more people my age to join the program here in Paraguay.

Marina: I’m excited to get to know Greece and its people. I’m also excited to meet athletes from all countries who participate in the Youth Summit.  I hope to learn more about them and their customs.

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