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The Unified Youth Summit starts school year on right track! Seven schools within the Philadelphia School District sent their youth leaders to attend our Unified Youth Summit as part of our Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) program. The day started off with Britt Kleine, Director of Special Olympics Philadelphia, welcoming all of the students, coaches and school staff. Jordan Schubert, Special Olympics Chester County athlete and Special Olympics Pennsylvania staff member, was the Keynote Speaker. Jordan shared his journey through high school and college and how Special Olympics and the Unified movement impacted his life. After an inspirational keynote address, it was time to educate our student leaders on how they too could start their Special Olympics journey like Jordan.
Our student leaders were excited to learn about the various components of the program (Unified Sports, Unified Youth Committee, and Whole School Engagement) and a new initiative Special Olympics Philadelphia is launching to help them with their Whole School Engagement – the Cool Schools Challenge as part of our inaugural Philadelphia Polar Plunge! After a brief presentation, students broke out by school to discuss how to engage students in their respective school, how to run meetings and decide on ideas to run with. After each breakout session, a representative from each school reported out to all of the student leaders.
The Summit ended with by our student leaders taking a pledge to be the agents of change within their schools and pledging to Plunge at the Cool Schools portion of the Philadelphia Plunge to show the public that they support for inclusion and respect. Before everyone left, we took a group picture and individual school pictures with the Philadelphia Polar Plunge mascot, whose name was announced earlier during the Summit! The students loved taking pictures with the newly named mascot, Chilladelphia!
Schools who attend the Unified Youth Summit include:
Special Olympics Project UNIFY is an education-based project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education that uses the sports and education programs of Special Olympics to activate young people across the U.S in order to promote school communities where all young people are agents of change – fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics believes that through sports young people can make a difference in friendships, schools and communities.
Project UNIFY initiatives include a host of core activities, both on the national and the grass-roots level. Local projects that meet Project UNIFY objectives are supported through a funding process for U.S. Special Olympics Programs.
Special Olympics Project UNIFY incorporates sports and related activities, however, in this new way of operating (youth-centered, school focused) there is an enhancement in current programs and paradigms from a focus on events to committing to a movement advocating for youth as change agents now and in the future. To learn more, click here.