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SOINA athlete represents Indonesia as torch bearer in run-up to 2012 London Olympics, 18 April 2012

Jakarta, 18 April 2012 – Indonesia’s Special Olympics’ gold medalist, Stephanie Handojo, will represent her country as a torch bearer in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics. Nominated by UNICEF Indonesia and the British Council, she will participate in the torch-bearing relay through the International Inspiration programme.

Stephanie is a talented young girl with Downs Syndrome, who won gold medal at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens in the 50 metres Division F6 Breaststroke; one of many other gold medals she has claimed at many competitions. She has also demonstrated her skills in playing piano - she holds an Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI) record for playing 22 songs within 2 hours on her piano, some of them without any musical score. She also actively participated in the Special Olympics Indonesia (SOIna)’s Athletes Leadership Programme – a training programme on leadership provided to SOIna’s athletes to strengthen their organizational and inter-personal skills.

Her passion and effort in sport and arts have been remarkable, and have been acknowledged at all levels, from her local community to the Office of the President of the Republic. Stephanie is seen as a role model and motivator for young people, especially those with physical and learning difficulties. In 2010 UNICEF Indonesia commended her leadership with the honour of Champion for Children.

Her determination, and her success, has demonstrated that all children, regardless of ability or circumstances, can reach their potential when given the right opportunity, support and assistance.

"Behind Stephanie’s high achievements in sports, arts as well as other things, her parents, coaches and those around her have played major roles, especially in giving support and encouragement. Being selected as one of the torch bearers for the 2012 London Olympics, I hope she will inspire and motivate her friends in SOIna, as well as other young people, to perform the way she does, learns and works hard to accomplish high achievements in their fields based on their talents and capacities," said dr. Pudji Hastuti, SOIna’s chairperson.

"On behalf of the Board of Committee and SOIna’s big family, I would like to thank and give credit to UNICEF and the British Council in Indonesia, for the cooperation and support in nominating Stephanie, so that she can become selected to represent Indonesia as a torch bearer," she added.

"UNICEF believes that every child should have the opportunity and the right to participate, to enjoy their childhood, and to succeed," said Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Indonesia.

"Stephanie is a true role model for children across the nation, showing that with the right support from family, community and society, anything is possible. All children should enjoy this right, regardless of their circumstances, and Stephanie has repeatedly taken this message to leaders in Indonesia – UNICEF urges them to listen, and to respond to what Stephanie has shown them is possible."

Stephanie will undertake her relay leg on 28 June 2012 in Nottingham, England, as part of the two month London Olympics’ torch bearing that will start in May 2012, covering Scotland, Northern Ireland as well as Wales. The Olympic Games will start on 27 July and continue through to 12 August 2012.

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