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On Tuesday, October 25, 2016, thirteen high schools came together for training to be student leaders in their respective schools at Special Olympics Philadelphia’s “I Have a Voice” Unified Youth Summit. The Philadelphia School District hosted the summit at their headquarters with support from HOBY, and The Philadelphia Foundation. Schools in attendance at the Unified Youth Summit were: Abraham Lincoln High School, Frankford High School, Furness High School, George Washington High School, High School of the Future, Hill Freedman High School, Martin Luther King Jr High School, Parkway West High School, Sayre High School, Simon Gratz High School, South Philadelphia High School, Thomas Edison High School, and Universal Audenried Charter High School.
The day started with opening remarks from President and CEO of Special Olympics PA, Matthew Aaron, Director of Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia, Britt Kleine. After opening remarks had been made, Brandon Velez-Roa and Kenny Brough from Abraham Lincoln High School shared how the Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) Program has it brought them together and made a huge impact on their lives. Superintendent, Dr. Hite, gave some remarks and inspired the students in attendance to learn as much as the could during the summit to continue making a positive change within their school.
The main part of the day was a presentation from by Kevin Grace, from Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY). Kevin lead the students in exercises about working together and setting goals. At the end of the presentation, students constructively discussed issues in their schools and how they could implement change in those situations by creating a game plan that the could execute in the academic year.
Youth Leadership is one of the components of the Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) Program, a program that brings individuals with and without intellectual disabilities together to train and compete on the same sports team as well as make a change in their school through a Unified School Club. Through these clubs, students act as leaders and promote inclusion through Whole School Engagement Activites.