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International Cheer Union (ICU) Signs Memorandum of Understanding Announcing Support of Special Olympics

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International Cheer Union announces their support of Special Olympics in developing cheerleading programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

This week, The International Cheer Union (ICU), the recognized World Governing Body of Cheerleading and Special Olympics International (SOI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form a partnership that will develop Special Olympics cheerleading programs in the North America region, and support the program’s expansion to other regions of the world.

This partnership reflects the commitment of the ICU towards creating more opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics Unified Sports® and other inclusive programs on a global level. The ICU is committed to communicating this goal to its 110 member nations, communicating the benefits of inclusive programs, and providing guidance for implementation.

“We are proud to partner with Special Olympics International and are humbled by their trust in us to help them accomplish their goal of developing and expanding programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities,” said Karl Olson, Secretary General of the ICU. “We look forward to seeing the athletes perform for the worldwide audience this week, and applaud their talent and commitment to the sport of Cheer.”

“In the year of our 50th anniversary, we have grown our movement to serve over 5 million athletes in over 170 countries in an effort to create a more inclusive and accepting society for people with intellectual disabilities. With the unwavering support and commitment of the International Cheer Union to develop the sport, more and more Special Olympics athletes around the world will now have the ability to develop and showcase their cheer talents on a global stage,” says Drew Boshell (Senior Vice President, Sport & Health, SOI).

Unified Sports is a fully inclusive sports program that unites athletes with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates for training and competition. Currently, there are more than 7,000 cheerleaders participating in Unified Sports cheerleading programs in nine states across America.

International Sport Federations, like the ICU, provide invaluable support to Special Olympics through the structure and network of the national member associations. Successful international partnerships are leveraged to build relationships at the national level to provide Special Olympics athletes access to high quality coaching and competition opportunities. Special Olympics provides International Sport Federations the opportunity to be a part of a movement that uses power of their sport to convene people for a highly impactful social inclusion program while increasing participation rates and relevancy of their sport to a broader group of individuals with and without intellectual disabilities through Unified Sports.

About the International Cheer Union

The International Cheer Union (ICU) was formed as the non-profit international governing entity whose mission is to advance cheerleading on a global scale. With 110 member nations, the ICU represents all geographical areas where cheerleading exists. The ICU promotes healthy competition, rule development and education for athletes, coaches, and parents. More information can be found on Photography and b-roll video available upon request.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5 million athletes and Unified partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, United Airlines, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, Safilo Group, and TOYOTA. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium.