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On Friday, May 29, 2015, Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia program partnered with the School District of Philadelphia for the 3rd Annual Unified Soccer Championship held at Northeast High School, located at 1601 Cottman Avenue, Philadelphia. Opening Ceremonies began at 9:30am followed by preliminary competition until about noon. After teams participated in preliminary competition, they then went head to head for the medal rounds including the Championship game! Special guest, Matt Cord, from WMMR helped start the day with an energetic, exciting Opening Ceremony.
The Championship featured teams from 11 Philadelphia high schools and Chester High School. Schools in attendance were: Abraham Lincoln, Audenried High School, Chester High School, Furness High School, George Washington High School, High School of the Future, Martin Luther King High School, Northeast High School, Sayre High School, South Philadelphia High School, and Thomas Edison High School. In addition to the soccer tournament, Creative and Performing Arts High School and Samuel Fels High School will showed their skills at bocce in some friendly competition.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. This Unified Soccer elective course, developed in partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Special Olympics Pennsylvania, includes curriculum with youth leadership components, anti-bullying elements and soccer training and competition. The course provides greater access to sports for all students, with and without disabilities.
Kenneth Brown, a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia and a Special Olympics Unified Partner, was recently selected as a National Youth Activation Committee (YAC) member by Special Olympics North America, a top honor in the organization.
The YAC is made up of young people from across the country who work together to promote school communities where all young people are agents of change. YAC members provide advice and counsel on strategies designed to reach other youth, engage in and promote Special Olympics activities in their home environments, communicate the initiatives of Special Olympics Project UNIFY, and network with other youth and U.S. Programs on a local, national and global basis.
Kenneth got involved with Special Olympics in his high school, where his twin brother, Kevin, who has autism and intellectual disabilities, also attends. Kenneth and Kevin played on a Unified soccer team together, and the experience inspired Kenneth to get more involved with Special Olympics.
“As a National YAC member, I truly want to reach out to people on a national & local level, helping to start a chain reaction and break down barriers,” Kenneth explains. “I want to empower others so that one-day their dreams will come true too. My favorite part about being involved with Project UNIFY is that every day is another opportunity to help another someone’s dreams come true.”