On October 17, 2018, Jefferson University hosted the 2018 Unified Youth Summit with the theme of “Make Inclusion a Lifetime Trend.”  Students gathered to learn how to work together with students with different personalities, how to be a leader who actively includes and motivates others around them, how to conduct successful Unified Club meetings, and tactics for fundraising. Participating schools included Abraham Lincoln, Ben Franklin, Edison, Frankford, Furness, George Washington, Hill Freedman World Academy, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, Martin Luther King, Northeast, Sayre, The School of the Future, Strawberry Mansion, and Universal Audenried Charter High Schools.

The program had kicked off with remarks from Chase Trimmer, Director of Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia, James Lynch, Executive Director of Athletics at The School District of Philadelphia, and Matt Aaron, President and CEO of Special Olympics Pennsylvania. During welcoming remarks, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln high schools were recognized for being Unified National Champion Schools. Once the opening remarks wrapped up, students split into groups with a facilitator from Jefferson Athletics. Throughout the morning, Jefferson student-athletes lead students through various activities to help them become better leaders within their school. Students started by sharing activities in their school that were student-led and student-driven. Next, each group was able to come up with new Whole School Engagement activities and create a plan for it. Students then learned the importance of how Spread the Word to End the Word (STW) and Respect campaigns are a good way for them to get more attention.

The activities took a break for lunch where the students were able to speak freely with one another in their groups and get to know each other better. Once lunch ended, students learned about the 2018 Philadelphia Polar Plunge and how they could participate in the Cool Schools Plunge. The Cool Schools Plunge is for high school students from around the city to support Interscholastic Unified Sports Programs (IUS). During the event, students partake in an educational activity followed by a plunge into icy waters. They also discussed various fundraisers which they could do to support their participation in the Cool Schools Plunge. Overall, the students who attended the 2018 Unified Youth Summit were able to leave Jefferson University with the knowledge on how to raise money for an important cause and how to lead their schools in becoming more inclusive.