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ohannesburg, South Africa – For the first time since the pandemic, the annual Africa Leadership Conference is taking place in person at the Ethiopian Airways Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Over 100 delegates from 39 African program countries are attending three days of sessions. This year marks the 19th Special Olympics Africa Leadership Conference, happening during the 55th anniversary year of the Special Olympics movement.

Special Olympics Ethiopia is extremely proud to host the largest Africa Region event of the year, and to share its experiences and activities at this Africa Leadership Conference. The inclusion message of Special Olympics has already had a great impact in local communities since we started our Program in 2018, and we plan to reach more athletes with and without intellectual disabilities in more locations in the next five years,” said Mihret Nigussie Chengerei, Chair of Special Olympics Ethiopia.

The conference opened this morning and will continue until Wednesday. As part of the official opening this morning the Africa Region recognised Dr Mathews Phosa, Chairperson of Special Olympics South Africa, for his many years of service to the movement and for hosting the Leadership Conference for 17 years in South Africa.

Dr Phosa, has been instrumental in the growth of the Special Olympics movement in South Africa and has also served on the international board of directors, “I am very humbled to receive this recognition. I have had the privilege of serving in the Special Olympics movement for over 15 years and remain committed to promoting the inclusion revolution both in South Africa and across the African continent. We need to work together as governments to ensure that all people with an intellectual disability have access to human rights”.

In a historic move, Ethiopian Airlines, signed the first of its kind agreement in the Africa Region to be the official carrier of the of the Special Olympics delegates.

“Ethiopian Airlines is a proudly pan-African airline – we have welcomed a partnership with Special Olympics Africa Region to include those who are differently abled and bring to them much needed awareness.”stated Nigusu Worku, Acting Vice President of ET-Holiday and Digital.

The Special Olympics movement is growing rapidly across the continent and the Annual Special Olympics Leadership Conference allows countries to access expertise from a number of invited speakers and of course from each other.

The 19th Annual Special Olympics Africa leadership meeting is proudly supported by Ethiopian Airlines, Lions Club International and A Very Special Christmas Grant.

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