Playing Unified Sports Inspires Me

2015-12-03-1449166068-5182901-JairamNavasSpecialOlympics.jpegPhoto Credit: Special Olympics Venezuela

From left to right:
Special Olympics Venezuela athletes: Nixon Rebolledo and Miguel Quiroz; Jairam Navas, Special Olympics Venezuela Ambassador and Special Olympics Venezuela athlete Isabella Izaguirre (Chavela)

For me, being a volunteer and ambassador for Special Olympics is one of my greatest achievements in my life. It's like an engine that gives me energy, which sparks even more when I see and spend time with such special and amazing athletes. They have taught me that nothing is impossible, and show me that in life we just need to, want to, and try to persevere and enjoy the process of being a learner. I am a black belt in Taekwondo 1st Dan, I do yoga, I am a professional dancer, but I never thought that tennis would be part of my life.

Inspired by these athletes who use sports to teach the world inclusion and tolerance, "Playing Unified" (participating in Special Olympics Unified Sports, where people with and without intellectual disabilities compete together as teammates) makes me feel really motivated to learn tennis -- a new sport for me -- and allows me to share and learn even more about our Special Olympics athletes.

Every Saturday you can find me at the courts of the National Tennis federation of my country, Venezuela. There, along with Special Olympics athletes, I am training and having fun in a Special Olympics Unified Sports tennis program. When I'm on the court I can see how differences disappear, the field of play is their zone, their territory, the place where they are as good as, if not better than, anyone else. At the beginning I felt like a guest, but these athletes were so humble and nice and made me feel part of the team very fast, regardless that my tennis playing level was (and to be honest, still is) much lower than theirs.

I'm so proud to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as a Unified partner -- Special Olympics Unified Sports has become one of the most important motivators for me. This is a day to be happy, to learn, to become a better person, to try and play my best tennis and demonstrate that I deserve to play doubles with a Special Olympics Athlete.

I now share in the Special Olympics athlete oath, "Let me win, but If I cannot win, let me be brave on the attempt." And I'm going to use the name of Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver's book to explain how I feel as a Unified partner: "Fully Alive."

This post is a part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Special Olympics for the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, which takes place on December 3.