For many years, I have worked with people who are not part of our society because of their disability. At Special Olympics, I have learned again to be happy about successes and especially about the successes of others. My athletes with intellectual disabilities also show me again and again how to deal with failures. 

I always like to tell an anecdote from my early days in Special Olympics. I was there for the first time as a coach at the World Games in Shanghai. One of our athletes won gold in dressage. An athlete from Mongolia came 4th and she was very sad and crying because she wanted to have a gold medal. My athlete saw that and immediately wanted to exchange his gold medal for her ribbon because he thought the ribbon was beautiful too. I was horrified at that time. Today I ask myself why – because the achievement and the recognition remain even without a medal. 

And that is exactly how I try to live today. I try to help people who are not as well off as I am. I don’t expect anything in return. It is nice to see when you have achieved something, even if it is only small steps. 

I wish the UNCRPD would have mentioned Inclusive Enterprises in its principles, because I am convinced of this model of work. We must continue to develop – Sheltered workshops for people with disabilities have their justification because they offer a daily structure in a protected environment. However, people with disabilities can and sometimes want to do more. I am convinced that in 10 years we have developed Inclusive Enterprises into an essential model because we are a strong community and the model of inclusive work is necessary for our society. We have a vision and we contribute to establishing people with disabilities in our society. By creating jobs subject to social insurance at market conditions, we also help to enable participation in social life. 

Values are important and we must not stop communicating these values. That is one reason why I am committed to vocational training for young people. I want to show young people that you can make a difference when your heart beats for a cause and we can enjoy it. We grow in our tasks and can be proud of ourselves. 

It is important that we act – we must not hope for the help of others, but take the scepter in our own hands. After every setback comes success. 

Dear women, we take care of the preservation of mankind and that is very important but we women can do a lot and that is why we can combine family and work. Society needs our intelligence and our knowledge. Our strength lies in organization but also in the transfer of knowledge.

That is why I hope that after me there will still be women who work for disabled people and make sure that they have their place in our society. They should receive a secure income and have crisis-proof jobs in the primary labour market.

President of EuCIE | CEO of Alexianer Textilpflege GmbH
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Exceptional innovator developing inclusive enterprises into an essential model
Everyone has special abilities and talents - including people with disabilities. We have succeeded if we manage to employ people according to their abilities in our companies. We must always remember that it can affect us all and that we can be happy if we are healthy.
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