FAMU’s Special Olympics Club promotes inclusion

Photo courtesy: FAMU Special Olympics Instagram

April is a time for reflection and action as communities come together to commemorate Autism Awareness Month. At Florida A&M University, students are spearheading initiatives to foster understanding, acceptance and inclusivity.

Jasmine Jenkins, a second-year architecture student from Memphis, Tennessee, serves as the president of the Special Olympics Club at FAMU. Her role consists of a wide array of responsibilities, from overseeing planning to coordinating with partner organizations like Special Olympics Florida and Special Olympics Leon County.

Reflecting on the nature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Jenkins emphasizes its diversity.

“No two people with autism are alike,” she said. “While some may encounter challenges in communication or social interaction, others possess exceptional talents and abilities that defy expectations.”

The foundation of the club’s advocacy work is this understanding, which directs their outreach and awareness campaigns.

Recently, the Special Olympics Club collaborated with the Peace by Piece Foundation for a campus walk, an event aimed at raising awareness and promoting inclusivity. This partnership, the first of its kind for the Special Olympics Club at FAMU, highlighted the power of collaboration in advancing the cause of autism awareness.

“By joining forces with like-minded organizations, we amplify our impact and reach,” Jenkins said. “Together, we can inspire others to embrace differences and foster a more inclusive community.”

In a similar narrative, Aliyah Elion, a pre-nursing sophomore who is also from Memphis, plays a pivotal role within the Special Olympics organization at FAMU. Her focus lies in integrating new members into the club and ensuring they feel welcomed and valued.

“Inclusivity is our guiding principle,” Elion said. “It’s about creating spaces where everyone feels seen, heard, and appreciated.”

Elion’s insights into autism emphasize the importance of patience and empathy.

“Understanding the unique perspectives of individuals with autism is essential,” she said. “By practicing kindness and creating inclusive environments, we can cultivate meaningful connections and break down barriers.”

The impact of Special Olympics Club’s efforts shines throughout the campus community, through various events and activities. From participating in Unified College Championship Week to organizing inclusive egg hunts and flag football games, each initiative serves as a testament to their commitment to advocacy and awareness.

As Autism Awareness Month unfolds, collaborative partnerships, inclusive events, and unwavering advocacy pave the path towards a more inclusive and understanding society.