Renee Manfredi SSIGM Blog #2 — SSIGM Goals

When I was chosen to be a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger (SSIGM), I was truly honored. I felt like I had the opportunity to make a difference in our world. While I have many goals during my term, these are my most significant goals.

Special Olympics Inclusive Health Messenger. I want to lead the call to inclusive health for all persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Health statistics for a person with IDD are very alarming. Did you know that a person with IDD may die 16 years earlier than a person without IDD?

As a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, I have the opportunity to lead that call. I recently co-emceed and participated in the 2019 Global Health Forum in Abu Dhabi, UAE during Special Olympics World Games. 190 countries attended this forum to promote change in the health of not only our athletes, but for all persons with IDD. At that Forum, we challenged 10,000 health care providers to be trained on how to identify and help treat people with IDD. We are getting the world involved!

After the forum, I was asked to serve on the Center for Inclusive Health Advisory Committee. We will look at resources that are available and propose recommendations on how to make documents easier to read and to be understood by persons with IDD.

I feel fortunate that my platform as a SSIGM is to talk with and work with medical personnel around the world on how to work with and talk to people with IDD. I am currently working with Kaiser Permanente Hawaii on making presentations during their Grand Rounds this September, 2019.


Share my story. The SSIGM platform will give me the opportunity to share my story about how Special Olympics has changed my life. I will have the opportunity to reach others who may be going through the same struggles I had while in school and after I was out of school. I was left out, overlooked, struggling to make friends and I really did not know what to do or what my place in this world was. Joining Special Olympics was the beginning of a life with meaning. As a teammate in Special Olympics, I began to see I had value. I saw I could be helpful. As a Global Messenger, I learned I had a voice and someone wanted to hear me. I felt I had a purpose. I want everyone to know they matter; REALLY matter. They have value and their voice needs to be heard and they have a purpose. I believe having a purpose is the beginning of transformation: going from the sidelines of life to the playing field.


Inclusion, what does this mean? I know about inclusion, because I know how it feels to be excluded. It means we are welcomed by everyone in the community, while we are at school, at work, and in everyday activities. Individuals may be different on the outside but we are all same on the inside. We are ALL a part of our world. Inclusion is when people are willing to accept individuals with IDD regardless of their abilities or differences. I am proud to serve on the inclusive committees & boards that I sit on, but this is only the beginning. It is important that people accept me for the skills that I have and not just because I have a disability. I am not special, I am just me. I am a speaker, a singer, a sister, an athlete & an SSIGM. I want to be the example and set this example. As an SSIGM, I hope to promote change so that individuals with IDD are seen as contributors in their communities because they have talents, ideas, concerns, and cares just like everyone else. I imagine a world that is truly INCLUSIVE where we do not have to ask to be included.


Globally advocating on behalf of those who cannot speak up for themselves. I love speaking to school age students. I share about how lonely I was and I share that words DO matter. It would have meant the world to me for my fellow classmates to just say hi or simply smile at me in the morning. I want them to know including makes a world of difference to their classmates and how they truly can make a difference in the lives of their fellow students. I actively participate in committees in my home state of Hawai’i & in my community so that I can advocate for myself and others who have IDD on issues and laws that affect us. I believe I have a responsibility to shape the world we live in. I hope to cause an effect that breaks down barriers. I want to continue to influence people all around the world and show them that we have the right to be seen and heard. I want the world to know that we are NOT people to be overlooked and ignored. WE HAVE A VOICE!


Meet the Determined was such a wonderful theme for the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. To me it means we all have the same dreams, it is just harder for us to reach them BUT we are determined to show our skills and talents to the world to achieve them. It also means that as an SSIGM, myself and my fellow SSIGM’s are determined to make an impact in the lives of our fellow athletes, Unified partners, family members , and hopefully everyone we meet.

I am one of the DETERMINED.


These are some of my goals as an SSIGM and I am so excited to have this chance to make a difference. I hope I will be able to transform the perceptions people may have about people with IDD and to inspire others to see people like me in a new light.

Thank you for reading my blog,

Renee Manfredi

A hui hou, until we meet again…