The World Is Hungry for Heart - Future of Inclusion Forum at Special Olympics USA Games Showcases Best Practices and Game Changers

By Jill Hammergren

July 4, 2018

A mother's reflection on her son's journey through autism, kicked off a moving, thought-provoking, and engaging look at the Future of Inclusion. The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games provided the perfect backdrop for Holly Tabor, to share how Special Olympics provides engagement, inclusion, and sports in ways that have transformed her son, Collin's life. A panel discussion featuring Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft and Co-Grand Marshal of the Games, Lauren Potter, actress, and Tig Notaro, stand-up comic and writer shines a light on what inclusion means for all of us. Their discussion included topics on business, community-wide initiatives and best practices, healthcare, early childcare, education, and sports.

"Bullying kills dreams, we need to stop it," Potter said, "Inclusion means to encourage people and to be brave and strong. Don't be a bully. Be fearless."

Shriver agreed, saying "You've got to be strong and tough to be an includer.  We must educate our children to be empathic and to have persistence and grit." He added, "We need game changers. We're pushing back against strong forces. I don't think we're looking for the ONE thing. Small actions taken seriously in your daily life can make big changes."

Notaro said, "Inclusion means being open to allowing people to be who they truly are. Look out beyond your own world existence and embrace others."

Microsoft is one of 200 employers in the Seattle area that are implementing inclusion initiatives. It currently has 56 employees with autism. "The world is hungry for heart and businesses are hungry for teamwork. Inclusion is helping people know they are valued and they belong," said Smith, "We must normalize the conversation, because when you do that it can make a big difference. We're in the early stages of understanding how businesses can become diverse environments."

"In the 21st Century and beyond," Shriver said, "We have no choice but to make our workplaces inclusive for all."

This push for inclusiveness extends beyond the business world. Special Olympics has identified Seattle, and three other cities including Chicago, Panama City, Panama, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for its Inclusive Cities Initiative pilot program. Each city is working with Special Olympics to determine what enables it to become a model of inclusion.