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On February 7-10th, two Special Olympics Philadelphia’s staff attended the 2017 Unified Champion Schools Annual Conference in Columbia, South Carolina. Over 245 people from 47 U.S. States and 5 Canadian Provinces were in attendance. The conference was designed to be the premier professional development for Special Olympics State Program staff and key volunteers who implement the Unified Schools Strategy. Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, made welcoming remarks and gave t first of many inspiration, inspiring speeches that energized attendees.
Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools are an educational and sports-based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities while creating communities of acceptance for all. Unified Champion Schools programming includes three main educational components in schools – Inclusive Youth Leadership, Whole-School Awareness activities, and Special Olympics Unified Sports.
The conference reiterated the importance of Unified Schools to the Special Olympics mission and provide a wealth of resources to help us continue to push for the unified and inclusive communities right her in Philadelphia.Through numerous seminars and guest speakers like Dan Habib, a filmmaker and disabilities advocate, and even the CEO of Special Olympics International, Marie Davis! All presenters and guest speakers empowered attendees by the message of the Unified initiative, and that is that when we #PlayUnified, we #LiveUnified.
Keep an eye out at your local schools for Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming and even more, contact us to learn how you can start your very own Unified Champion School programming at your school! Check out what our Philadelphia schools are already doing under the School-Based Programming.