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Special Olympics Unified Leadership Summit

Summary: During the Special Olympics Leadership Summit, participants shared ideas on how the program can be successful at every school.  

SPS Special Olympics Leadership Summit  

At the first-ever Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Special Olympics Unified Leadership Summit, students and educators from 10 SPS schools gathered to learn how to build an inclusive school community.  

“Too often, because of negative attitudes and low expectations, people with intellectual disabilities (ID) don’t get an opportunity to show what they can do,” said Emily Carter, Special Olympics Manager of Unified Champion City Schools. “The goal of the SPS Unified Leadership Summit is to overcome this barrier.”  

During the summit, Special Olympics representatives led sessions and shared ideas on how the program can be successful at every school.  

“Unified Leadership teaches leaders of all abilities to value and learn from each other, and create environments where people with ID succeed in meaningful roles,” Carter said.  

While educators spent their time learning how to build their school’s Unified program, students participated in team bonding activities and heard from other youth leaders about the work they’re doing with Special Olympics.  

The summit hosted many guest speakers, including former Special Olympics Unified Champion “superstar” Zoie Breland. She helped create a successful Unified Sports program at her high school. Breland shared her experience as a Unified leader during the summit’s youth panel.  

“Through my experience I realized how awesome [the Unified Champion program] was,” Breland said. “The more I talked about it, the more support we gained from our community and the more people wanted to get involved. Once I got started and people learned about it, everybody wanted to support it.”  

The SPS community and Special Olympics Washington look forward to continuing to grow the Unified Champion School Program throughout the district. More information about the Unified Champion program is on the Special Olympics Washington website.

Anyone interested in starting the program at their school can contact Emily Carter at ecarter@sowa.org.  

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