"Miia Harpo, Saga Naumanen, Tom Moilanen, and Milla Tiira made it to the medal positions in the Abilympics Metz 2023 competition. Photo: Skills Finland / Juha Nurminen

International news

Finland has made history by achieving its first-ever medals at the Abilympics skills competition, a global competition for professionals with special needs. The event was held in Metz, France, on March 24 and 25, 2023. Thirteen Finnish participants competed in their respective fields of expertise, such as landscape gardening, cake decorating, and character design. The two-day event culminated in the award ceremony on Saturday evening, where Finland won one gold and four silver medals.

Saga Naumanen from the Luovi Vocational College won the gold medal in the Character Design category, where competitors had to design a futuristic human. She took inspiration from the cyberpunk genre and Mad Max movies. Naumanen is a second-year student, and her future plans include working in the gaming industry.

The Finnish silver medalists are Miia Harpo (Cake Decorating), Tom Moilanen (Landscape Gardening), Jonne Salo (Massage), and Milla Tiira (Outdoor Photography). Moilanen had prior competition experience at the national Taitaja competition, where he won gold in the Property Maintenance category last year. The competitors expressed that participating in the competition not only helped them improve their professional skills, but also challenged them to grow personally and make new friends.

The Abilympics competition aims to promote the skills and talents of people with special needs in various fields of expertise. This year's event attracted around 400 competitors from 27 countries who competed in 44 categories. Finland's team participated in nine of these categories.

This achievement is an inspiration to the Finnish education system, which values equality and inclusivity. It is a testament to the potential of people with special needs and their ability to excel in their chosen fields with proper support and training. The Finnish Abilympics team's outstanding performance highlights the importance of providing opportunities and equal access to education and training for everyone, regardless of their background or ability.