Stephanus, 22, is pursuing his bachelor’s degree at the Padjadjaran University in Economics and Development Studies from the capital city of Indonesia. His journey with the Special Olympics movement began with a simple invitation over an Instagram direct message. Here’s how he has evolved with the Special Olympics movement over time.
“Great things never came from comfort zones”
When Stephanus first joined Special Olympics Indonesia as a volunteer, he had a difficult time befriending people with intellectual disabilities (ID). He found that many of them were reserved and lacked the confidence to speak their mind. Many had been isolated for too long. All their lives, they had been told they were not good enough.
Some of his friends also looked down on him for volunteering with people with ID. It was a waste of time, they said. Their insults sparked a fire in him. Indignance turned to determination, and he decided to put an end to such erroneous opinions.
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within”
Stephanus’ volunteering journey led him down a path of self-discovery, and has gained him lifelong friendships. When Stephanus first met Yofan Aditia, a Special Olympics Indonesia athlete leader, he was instantly struck by Yofan’s positive energy and diligence. He found out that Yofan aspired to be a successful entrepreneur and has been working hard to build his own business. Stephanus was inspired by how much effort Yofan put into everything that he did, including perfecting his public speaking skills so that he could be an effective advocate for people with ID.
Yofan has inspired him to become a better person. The two are now firm friends and are working together to promote employment opportunities for people with ID and equipping them with skills that are in demand. Their first collaboration was a unified baking project for people with and without ID, to introduce inclusive working conditions to a multinational company. Their friendship and commitment to promoting inclusion have grown stronger with each passing day.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Stephanus is also an active member of the LEO clubs program, an international organization designed for young people to develop leadership skills, give back to their local communities and encourage both social and professional development. He has organised an event called LEO leadership development in Jakarta for young people with and without ID.
“I want to empower the young people in Leo clubs to partner with Special Olympics Indonesia to address negative perceptions of people with intellectual disabilities in our society. I want to be the bridge between both organizations, so that together, we can advocate for social inclusion and create a more accepting world for people of all abilities.”