Katie Hut and Natalie Green first met in 2018 when they partnered to attend the Youth Leadership Experience (YLE) at Special Olympics 2018 USA Games in Seattle, Washington. Although they had never met, both had joined Special Olympics at age 12, and had participated in Polar Plunge fundraisers and the 2015 Unified Torch Relay. Their initial connection was evident, and 7 days together in Seattle gave them time to learn about and bond with each other.
A key message for them was inclusion - to build engagement in sport, to grow social inclusion, and help fulfill the passions and determination of athletes and their families. Katie and Natalie submitted a video to the #EKSchallenge with their statement about inclusion.
On December 10, 2018 Katie and Natalie were contacted by Special Olympics to let them know they had been selected to join the Special Olympics USA communications team as staff-in-training. This was to be one of the most unified teams to travel to the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi.
#KatnNat were selected for representing the spirit of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and inspiring the #UnifiedGeneration. This GenerationUnified.org challenge is supported and funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education.
#ChooseToInclude #KatnNat #SONAStaffInTraining #BeUnified #PlayUnified #SpecialOlympicsAbuDhabi2019 #SpecialOlympics #SpecialOlympicsUSA #MeetTheDetermined #Cheer4USA #InclusionRevolution #Yay #InnovateForInclusion #AbuDhabi2019 #WorldGamesAD #Cheers4Champions #InclusiveHealth #MadetoMatter
Katie and Natalie participated in Opening Ceremonies, Culture Night at NYU Abu Dhabi campus, Global Youth Leadership Summit sessions, the inaugural launch of Unified Champion schools across the United Arab Emirates, Global Youth Circle, cultural visits to the Louvre, Mother of the Nation Festival, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and athletic competitions in gymnastics, rollerskating, beach volleyball and basketball.
Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York was at the World Games to explore the Special Olympics theme of inclusion, and what it means to live with an intellectual disability. Katie and Natalie were interviewed at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC). The response to their story across all platforms (humansofnewyork.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) was overwhelming.
themeganbaca 😭😭😭 This is why we need to remember that our purpose and influence has nothing to do with status and money and followers. We make such a impact just by being there for one another. Forget this social media nonsense. We are all influencers. What a beautiful friendship.❤️
katie._did what program is this? i would love to get involved
3emiweelee “I didn’t know what to do because, you know, new people” I RELATE SO HARD
Inclusion means to me that everyone gets to do what they love. - Natalie, then Tim
On their last day in the United Arab Emirates, Katie and Natalie were able to interview Timothy Shriver on the meaning of inclusion. After the interview they gave him one of their #KatnNat pins and a "Lead from the Heart" sticker that was inspired by his quote.
#KatnNat inclusion revolution Podcast
Unified Champion Schools are integral to growing inclusion and building communities of acceptance. For Special Olympics and the athletes, families, partners, coaches and communities that they are part of, we find stories of personal growth, empowerment and realization of self-worth, and character. Katie and Natalie want to work with Special Olympics Utah to grow the Unified Schools program in the state. To help raise national visibility of these Unified Programs, Katie and Natalie are hosting a new podcast series to spread the message of Special Olympics, promote inclusion and bring together the #UnifiedGeneration. Katie and Natalie will interview people around the United States to find out what inclusion means to them.
Both Katie and Natalie will graduate from high school in 2019, and are excited to stay involved in Special Olympics. They are also willing to accept guest appearances on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and unconditional invites to The Kelly Clarkson Show or The Ellen Show.