Inclusive together – Germany’s largest inclusion movement
The starting gun has been fired and the decisions have now been made. 216 Host Towns and in fact 216 communal projects will help shape an open, diverse society. The largest communal inclusion project in Germany’s history will create a new sense of togetherness while opening up space for encounters far beyond the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023.
The host towns are preparing to receive the international delegations. Over four days, from 12 to 15 June 2023, they will host athletes and their delegation before the Games kick off in Berlin. While getting to know the country and its people, the delegations will experience the special and unique regional features of all the German federal states up close. This will help the communities – cities, counties, districts and municipalities – to forge an image of Germany throughout the whole world.
"I’m so looking forward to getting to know people from other countries and cultures," says Stefanie Wiegel, athlete spokeswoman for Special Olympics Nordrhein-Westfalen. Isabelle Schildheuer, a canoeist from Stuttgart, would be "so proud to be able to show the athletes our homeland." Lea Schergun, athlete from Halle (Saale), also "would like to present the city and the club to everyone from around the world who visits us." Michael Lohfink, chairman of the Special Olympics Baden-Württemberg Athlete Input Council, explains, "It is important that the athletes have the opportunity to find their feet before the hustle and bustle of the Games." As a cyclist, he took part in the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. "Inside they’ll be full of anticipation," Lohfink knows, "so this will allow them to settle themselves, experience diversity and explore the area."
The Host Towns will also encourage greater participation and recognition of people with disabilities. Their visibility and equal participation are what is driving the commitment of the communities.
First and foremost, local concepts for the inclusive projects were key to the selection of the Host Towns. The communities also impressed with their motivation and ideas. Practical considerations were important, too, such as travel times and routes. Numerous applications were viewed and evaluated by committees with up to twelve members from the respective national associations, Special Olympics athletes and Local Organising Committee (LOC) staff. Based on this evaluation, the Executive Committee of Special Olympics Germany and the LOC made the decisions in close cooperation with the SO States Council.
The Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, the world’s largest inclusive sports event, will make inclusion ever more tangible. People with intellectual disabilities will become more visible, while encounters will be easier and exchange more natural: within the Berlin Olympic Stadium, at Alexanderplatz and, thanks to the program, also nationwide in the 216 Host Towns.
Even before the flame is lit in the Olympic Stadium, delegations from all over the world will be embarking on a journey across Germany, with the aim of experiencing participation locally and making those with disabilities visible in sport and society. I would like to warmly congratulate all of the selected cities and municipalities.
Together, Germany is now creating a new coexistence. In conjunction with the Special Olympics "Live" and "Wir gehören dazu" projects,
a powerful inclusion movement is emerging. It is intended that even communities that will not welcome a delegation will remain a part of this inclusive network, with the aim of supporting and implementing their inclusive projects in close cooperation with Special Olympics.
Unbeatable Together, Inclusive Together - United in Diversity.