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It is not at all easy to be a person with an intellectual disability. But some have managed to be successful, integrate and create an independent life in Albania, and even become a model for their peers.

This is the case of Gersi and Ina, two young people born with intellectual disabilities. In Albania, it is not easy for people with disabilities to create an independent life, integrate, and even become inspiring models for many young boys and girls from equally marginalized and vulnerable groups. Geri and Ina are cases where hard work has resulted in  concrete achievements.

Geri has chosen sports as an opportunity to show his special abilities. He counts dozens of participations in national and international sports activities, where, quite a few times, he has managed to get medals and first places in Olympiads and competitions.

"When I was 10 years old, my mother started taking me to the pool, because she was advised that swimming was one of the sports that was good for my physical health, muscle strengthening, and my development in general. I am trained in the sport of swimming in the pool by the coach and I have become a professional athlete, participating in international and national championships such in Florence, Kosovo, the Czech Republic, Canada, and Portugal, where I have received many medals and diplomas for the results I have achieved during these competitions".

Ina Toska, or as everyone knows her “Ina the photographer”, was born in Fier in 1988. Days later she had a high fever and problems began to appear, leaving irreparable consequences of speaking ability. Ina never gave up in her quest to have a normal and active life, thanks to her unsparing will and desire to be like all her peers. Different from Gersi who chose sports, Ina chose photography as her "window" to create and build her independence in society.

"A small camera from Japan was not just a gift my aunt gave me, but it was the moment my life changed. Since then, I have not taken the camera off my hand. I have a great will and desire to work and achieve what I want. My most difficult day is when I have no job and don't take pictures".

Ina and Gersi are concrete examples that, by not giving up, nothing is impossible, despite the many obstacles they have faced, obstacles that have changed the lives of their family, friends, and colleagues, who have never hesitated to support them in their efforts to be like everyone else.

"Besides the sport of swimming and basketball, I work, yes, I work in one of the most popular stores in Tirana and I am responsible for placing the alarm labels of the products that the company sells. I am very satisfied with my daily work and sports activity, with the staff who loves and support me" – Gersi says.

To allow them to show their talents, skills, and desire to be like their peers, with the support of UNFPA, the tournament " Shoot for Inclusion - 3 points of inclusiveness " was held for the first time in Tirana ". The activity organized by Special Olympics gathered in Tirana young men and women with and without intellectual disabilities in a Summit dedicated to Youth and Sports for Inclusion, highlighting the talent and courage of special athletes.

Ten delegations of young people from Kosovo, Serbia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, proved with their participation that sports can be a very good opportunity for inclusion, good health, sustainable development, and the integration of well-being of persons with intellectual disabilities in society.

TIRANA UNIFIED presented the experiences of young people from the region with and without intellectual disabilities, who led activities and promoted sports to include people with intellectual disabilities in everyday life. Sports activities combined with the promotion of culture, cuisine, tradition, and history added a dynamic dimension to the summit.

This Regional Summit took place for the first time in Tirana (Albania), organized by Special Olympics Albania, under the auspices of the Mayor of Tirana, within the framework of the many activities of "Tirana European Capital of Youth 2022",  in partnership with UNFPA and other partners.