Chicago, Illinois, September 23, 2019 – Over the past four days youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities from 12 states and Canada came together for the Special Olympics Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit. With the support of KPMG, students participated in networking sessions, leadership development trainings and experiential opportunities that furthered their understanding of what it means not only to be a leader but an inclusive leader. Inclusive youth leadership occurs when students with and without intellectual disabilities work together to lead and plan advocacy, awareness, and other inclusive activities throughout the school year.
Throughout the weekend, each Unified pair, which included a student with and a student without an intellectual disability, was matched up with a senior-level KPMG employee, providing both the students and the KPMG professionals an opportunity to learn from one another.
“KPMG is proud to sponsor and support the Special Olympics Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit,” shared Audit Partner Dana Foote, who serves as the Co-Chair of the KPMG Abilities in Motion Advisory Board. “Programs like this help us celebrate and empower the next generation of future leaders. Inclusion is about all of us, and together, we can create a culture that strives for equity and embraces, respects and values differences for all people.”
Foote kicked off the summit describing how inclusion is an important value that all leaders need to understand and embrace in order to be successful in and out of the workplace. From here, fellow youth leaders led students in a workshop around, “Meaningful Inclusion,” a theme that would be referred to throughout the summit.
The following day was full of skill development for our youth leaders including sessions around public speaking, storytelling and leadership training. This included a session lead by KPMG professionals around design thinking and project management.
To culminate the experience, each Unified pair pitched a project on how they will make their school or community a more inclusive place to a panel of KPMG senior leadership. Projects ranged from youth leaders wanting to increase the amount of Unified Sports teams in their schools to advocating for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities throughout their entire school district.
Andrea Cahn, Vice President of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools had this to say about the weekend’s events, “Every day in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools across the country, we see students creating positive climates through inclusive sport and leadership opportunities. But it is not every day that we are able to have youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities from across the country gather together to share with us and each other their visions of a more inclusive world. We are grateful to KPMG for recognizing the value and power of these young peoples’ voices, and the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education for their foundational support. Both of these organizations have shown how much they value this network of game changers by supporting this IYL Summit for our youth leaders to take their leadership to the next level. “
Thanks to KPMG, each Unified pair received financial support in the amount of $500 to help make their visions come to life. This articulated not only their commitment to these youth pairs but to inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in school and the workplace.
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