In early February, students in the Special Olympics Unified Champion School programs at Woodson High School and Barnard Elementary School traveled downtown to spend time learning and leading on the Hill as part of  Special Olympics Hill Day.

Youth Leaders Anaiya Hinnat and Ayokunle Ejiko from Woodson High School, and Starr, Kayden, Dania, Noah, Yoel, and Angelique from Barnard Elementary School dressed up in their Special Olympics best and prepared to advocate for Special Olympics in-school programs. After a day of training on public speaking, storytelling, and civic engagement, the Youth Leaders were ready to put their new skills to the test!

The Special Olympics group met with Sullivan from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton’s staff to discuss Special Olympics’ budgetary ask for the upcoming fiscal year, while sharing the personal impact Special Olympics has had on them. 

“When I get a medal I feel happy. Even if I don’t get a medal I’m happy because I tried my best, met some new people, and had fun. Special Olympics has made me open up more and become more confident.

Having to be on a team and talk to people, it’s good for me.”

– Aniaya Hinnat, Woodson High School athlete

Sullivan told the group about both his and the Congresswoman’s sports background, and the group bonded and laughed about the joys of building skills, improving confidence, being on a team.

Kader Nsiri, Special Educator at Barnard Elementary School, helped the students breakdown the funding ask with a fun math lesson: “Students, what percentage of the total budget are we asking for for our program?” The students replied with both a number less than 1%, and big smiles, proving both their math and persuasion skills.


We are excited to continue building a relationship with Congresswoman Holmes-Norton’s Office, while instilling confidence and self-advocacy skills in our DC youth with and without disabilities through leadership opportunities like Hill Day!