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Kat n' Nat in Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Games

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.

The YLE program inspired ideas for engagement and extending leadership in the Special Olympics movement through local schools, communities and across the state.

#EKSchallenge

"You are the stars and the world is watching you. By your presence you send a message to every village, every city, every nation. A message of hope. A message of victory." - Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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.

Preparation for World Games included social media outreach through a variety of channels

#CHEER4USA

#ChooseToInclude #KatnNat #SONAStaffInTraining #BeUnified #PlayUnified #SpecialOlympicsAbuDhabi2019 #SpecialOlympics #SpecialOlympicsUSA #MeetTheDetermined #Cheer4USA #InclusionRevolution #Yay #InnovateForInclusion #AbuDhabi2019 #WorldGamesAD #Cheers4Champions #InclusiveHealth #MadetoMatter

#WORLDGAMESAD

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.

#KatnNat focused on outreach and interviews of athletes, youth leaders, speakers and ambassadors of Special Olympics programs.

Highlights of the trip included:

  • Interview with WWE Spokesperson Stephanie McMahon (particularly the interview question about Nat's fanny pack, aka Dwayne; and number of views on their social media was CRAZY)
  • Q&A with Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad who said "If they think your dreams are crazy, show them what crazy dreams can do"
  • Q&A with Olympian Seun Adigun who was kind enough to talk about what inclusion means to her
  • Interview by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York (more below)
  • Met Global Ambassador and ESPN Analyst Daina Shilts
  • Interviews with Global Youth Summit participants including Noora Zainal of Bahrain, Mackenzie Beauvais‐Nikl and Enzo Ewari of Special Olympics Colorado
  • Interview with Special Olympics staff member Mitch Bonar of Indiana
  • Athlete interviews with Mourice Davis, Rolando Moodie and Coach Nagash Cockburn of Jamaica, Alec Heuermann of California, Jordan Anne Macleod of Canada, and Ryan Dilg and Bret Giebel of Utah
  • Met Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger and former Channel Kindness Ambassador Hanna Joy Atkinson
  • Reuniting with Director of Unified Champion Schools, Urban Development and former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Ray Roberts, who they met at the 2018 USA Games
  • Working with the Special Olympics USA and SOI communication teams as staff-in-training to provide social media coverage, and to highlight athletes, youth leaders and activities during World Games Abu Dhabi
  • Meeting athletes and youth leader delegates representing 192 nations from around the world
  • Local coverage by KSL: 2 Utahns go viral after Special Olympics interview of 'Humans of New York' creator
WWE Spokesperson Stephanie McMahon took time to exchange interviews with #KatnNat at the 2019 Global Youth Leadership Summit in Abu Dhabi (with over 100,000 social media interactions)

#HumansOfNewYork SERIES on SPECIAL OLYMPICS

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

#MadeToMatter

One of the key messages delivered by Tim Shriver was regarding the moment that we have: This is the most open, the most creative, globally conscious, the most entrepreneurial generation in history. No generation in history has had the chance to see the world with eyes as open as ours. We do not wait to become future leaders, when it is with our voices that we can take a leadership role now.

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.

We're #KatnNat, and we got this - no doubt #BestBuds #MadeToMatter #InclusionRevolution
Words cannot express my gratitude for this phenomenal experience you have provided for us. This entire trip has truly been a dream come true and I learned more than I could have possibly imagined. I never thought I could be a leader but this conference has truly changed my perspective: a leader is someone who stands up for what they believe in. And Special Olympics is what I believe in with my whole heart and soul. Thank you a million times over, and here’s to the Inclusion Revolution! - Katie Hut

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