This new mantra and more, were the lessons learnt at the Special Olympics Leadership Academy- II that opened on 17 May 2016 at Scottish High International School, Gurgaon, Haryana. Lessons were new, training methods were unconventional and diverse, and experiences shared by panellists were relatable and inspiring.


Running its course through a duration of 4 days until 20th of May the Academy reached out to 33 participants from 7 countries of the Asia Pacific Region including 12 states of India. Apart from India, the other participating countries were Serendib, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines and Bhutan. From India, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh participated.


As part of the Global Strategy, Special Olympics is committed to improving support and training for its leaders around the world. In keeping with this strategic goal the aim is to roll out a leadership development program that engages and inspires leaders, especially emerging leaders to become visionary, dynamic leaders that drive the development and growth of Special Olympics in their country or state.


Leader II workshop built on the content of the Leader Academy I, deepening the participants’ self-awareness of personal leadership and connecting it to the mastery of leading organizational change management initiatives and communicating for maximum impact.


Adding a whole new perspective through multiple speakers and methodologies over the previous academy, Leader II opened on 17 May 2016, recapitulating and reiterating learning points from the first one. The participants went through a diversity of activities and sessions from team work, to individual reflections to dramatic renditions and formal and offbeat interactions, all aiming towards upgrading parameters of leadership skills. A day of the Academy was dedicated to the Youth leaders who arrived from all over India to present their respective initiatives and also to strengthen their participation at the National level.


Mr. Denis Doolan, Chief, Organizational Excellence, Special Olympics, Inc. led the Academy along with Olga Yakimakho, Senior Manager, Organizational Excellence, SOI. Esteemed guest speakers were Michael Lee, Senior Consultant SHL Talent Measurement India, CEB; Mohit Anand, Managing Director, Da Vinci Media India; Sachin Gaur, VP, Talent Development, Deloitte Consulting India; Dinkar Ayilavarapu, Partner, Bain & Company; Dr. R. L. Bhatia, Founder, World CSR Day; Sunil Vishnu, Co-Founder Training Sideways


In addition to enriching inputs by the Guest Speakers, a session held during the academy invited a panel of 6 members on day two, describing their personal experiences, challenges and strategies followed to circumvent them.


Panel on Leadership Lessons and Leading Change


Dr. Ashok Dhoble, Hon. General Secretary, Indian Dental Association

Dr. RL Bhatia, Founder, World CSR Day

Neeraj Bansal, Chief Business Officer, Ignite world

Rajiee Mehar Shinde, Director & CEO, PTC Network

Manish Desai, Division Head of Technology, Macquarie Group

Kalyan Rajan, Sr. Vice President, Thomson Social, J Walter Thompson South Asia



Dr. Tim Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics Inc, through a video message:


Leadership is restless dissatisfaction. Set audacious goals and mobilize your leadership powers to attain them with a glimmer in your eyes. Leadership is not something you say or you feel.



Mr. Denis Doolan, Chief, Organizational Excellence, Special Olympics, Inc, Lead person Leader II, at the inauguration:


This is a very special moment. We as leaders are supposed to do special things and we must.

India is the first place in the world to host the Leadership Academy, which inaugurated in December 2014. We now are a bigger team to do a bigger job.


It would be hard to write down all takeaways and highlights of the Academy. No words can describe the whole-hearted support of luminaries, from India and all over the world, across multiple fields, towards the vision of Special Olympics of Inclusion of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. The Academy brought them face to face with the participants, felicitating them while facilitating meaningful networking.


Special Olympics Bharat partnership with Indian Dental Association


They have done what the rest of the developed world is yet to do


SO International and SO Bharat honoured Dr.Dibyendu Mazumdar and Dr. Ashok Dhoble at the Leadership Academy Training Seminar held in New Delhi from 17th to 29th May 2016.


The unique Leadership displayed by the President, Dental Council of India – Dr Dibyendu Mazumdar and Executive Committee by opening doors of all Dental Colleges in the country to all people with ID is the very first in the world. This was applauded and President DCI felicitated by Special Olympics International for demonstrating transformative leadership by removing barriers to access to oral health .


The Indian Dental Association under the Leadership of Dr Ashok Dhoble has displayed empathy and social inclusion by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Special Olympics Bharat for championing the cause of special athletes and building awareness, disseminating knowledge and creating inclusive communities in the Nation. Dr Dhoble was felicitated by Special Olympics International for aligning with the vision and mission of Special Olympics.


The Dental industry is not far behind. Mr Shammi Gambhir, Managing Director, Unicorn Denmart has shown that India Shines. He supports the cause of Special Olympics.


The Dental Council of India is a statutory body formed by the Act of Parliament by the Dentist’s Act of 1948 and is primarily responsible for regulating the standard of education in all Dental Colleges ( Private and Government) of the country  and the standard of the profession. All dental colleges come under the command and control of the Dental Council. Curriculum and syllabus regulation, Inspections to maintain standards, award of recognition and other related functions are carried out by the DCI.


There are over 300 dental colleges with 267 Private dental colleges and the rest government managed.  26000 BDS graduates and 6068 MDS postgraduates are provided education in these institutions annually.


Dr Smiti Jassar Klaire, the CEO , Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences & Research was the first to start the ball rolling. In Sept 2014, the school under leadership of Dr Smiti and  Dr Reena R Kumar created SUNEEDHI- The Centre of Excellence for Special Care Dentistry which gave free dental treatment to all athletes from Special Olympics.  550 dental students of this college are sensitized and empowered and take part in Unified Sports, Unified Stay, Youth Activation besides dental treatment of our athletes. These students will go to their own states after graduation and continue to actively support Special Olympics.


Darcie Mersereau, Vice President, Health Programs, Community Impact, Special Olympics International:

What you have accomplished is both a triumph of health justice over injustice and a model that I hope we can replicate in other locations.

Drew Boshell, Senior Vice President, Sport & Health, Special Olympics International:

This is a Game Changer for so many of our Athletes.


Dr. Steven P. Perlman, D.D.S., M.Sc.D., D.H.L. (hon.), Senior Global Clinical Adviser and Founder, Special Olympics Special Smiles:


This is indeed a landmark decision that will affect countless athletes


Lions Clubs International- India


Past International Director (PID) K.M. Goyal was invited on day three of the Leadership Academy as a special Guest by David Evangelista, Acting President and Managing Director, Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia, where he both, highlighted the strong Special Olympics- Lions Clubs International “Mission: Inclusion” partnership as well as his keen willingness to support connecting the State and National

leaders to their respective Lions Clubs Districts.


Lions Clubs International has been supporting the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes® Program for 14 years. Since the partnership’s inception in 2000, the Lions Clubs International

Foundation has provided over 300,000 Special Olympics athletes with quality vision care.

In 2013, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International expanded their partnership to include new areas of collaboration beyond vision–including Unified Sports®, youth activation, family support, Healthy Hearing and Athlete Leadership. Lions continue to play a key role in the success of Opening Eyes through hands-on event support.  Lions and Leos are uniquely positioned to provide support to Special Olympics athletes in a number of ways. Among many other opportunities, local Lions and

Leo Clubs can participate in Opening Eyes and Healthy Hearing events, volunteer at Games, and engage in Unified Sports.


In the year 2009, Lions Club and Special Olympics Bharat entered a MoU (Multiple District 322) where Lions signed to support with pre and post screening facilities like hospitals, clinicians, equipments, follow up care for the athletes in the East and North East Region of India.


Air Marshal Keelor, PVSM, KC, AVSM, VrC , Founder & CEO Special Olympics Bharat:

The inspiring address by PID Goyal during the academy is seen as support from the Lions Club with strong prospects of striking a pan-India partnership giving us entry and access to the Lions Clubs organizations all over the country. This will give a new surge to what’s fulfilling the Healthy Athlete aspirations of the new Global Strategy Plan


Engagement of Youth Leaders

Leveraging the abundant enthusiasm and energies of the youth an essential element of the new Global Strategy 2016-2020 empowers them to lead the change. They are the ‘Youth Leaders’. In this capacity they are expected not only to participate but to educate, motivate and activate persons around them to practise and promote Inclusion.


Bearing the central role carved for the young generation a day of the Academy was dedicated to their participation while mapping a path for their effective leadership.


Strengthening Government relations and maintaining partnerships in support of the SO mission was the last session held followed by a wrap up that included finalization of Action plans, evaluation and presentation of certificates.


Air Marshal Denzil Keelor, Air Marshal Denzil Keelor PVSM, KC, AVSM, VrC

Founder Trustee & CEO:


I am grateful to Dr. Tim Shriver, Dr. John Dow ,Jr, Mr. Denis Doolan and their entire team for coming back to India with a higher level of essential leadership training. As we all strive towards growth and Special Olympics continues to grow substantially, professional management at all levels along with measuring its impact becomes imperative.

I also consider this to be a platform to engage with our guests from the neighbouring countries of India and look forward to build closer relations with them to strengthen the impact of Special Olympics worldwide.