To Stephen Basden ’13, the Special Olympics was just another sports team he enjoyed playing on while growing up in Lynn, Massachusetts. That’s because Stephen, in support of his older brother, Ptah Williams, started playing youth sports in the organization at a young age. Ptah, who has Klinefelter syndrome and is on the Autism spectrum, was nonverbal until he was 11 years old.
The boys’ mother, Dalene Basden, always saw sports as a catalyst. She became a lead volunteer in the organization (and was recently inducted into the Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame).
“My mom saw a lack of programming for her child and took action,” said Stephen. “Special Olympics was a place to play that was more inclusive with other kids who may have developmental differences, but also neurotypical kids from the community.” Even as Stephen got older and began to compete on more elite sports teams, he stuck with Special Olympics—and said “the stars aligned” when he got to Govs and learned the school hosts the annual Special Olympics state soccer tournament. Stephen jumped at the opportunity to volunteer and get more student-athletes involved.
Beyond the Special Olympics, Basden is co-founder of the nonprofit Metafold, which supports Black and Brown communities around Boston, and is also a founding member of Govs BIPOC Alumni Collective, working to ensure the positive experience of Govs students of color and indigenous students.
“Diversity of experience opens you up to so many opportunities, whether they’re immediate or down the road,” said Stephen. “Try a new sport, a new activity, a new group of friends, a new place to eat. Something you try at 15 can end up being your dream job at 30.”