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National University’s Social and Emotional Harmony program Partners with Special Olympics to Mentor Youth Leaders

A young girl with Down syndrome in a yellow shirt with a backwards ball cap holds her arms out in celebration of running on a track

San Diego, California – 09 February 2022: Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching & Learning, affiliate programs of the National University System, have partnered on an initiative to develop youth leadership with Special Olympics Incorporated (SOI). SOI is the global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power of inclusion through sport, leadership development, health advocacy, and school engagement.

Over the next two years, the partnership will focus on Special Olympics’ Global Youth Leadership work, which brings together youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities at nearly 200 global, regional, national, and local summits. These summits provide a platform for youth leaders to discuss and implement relationship-driven, inclusion-based projects in their own communities. These youth-led projects vary from educationally focused projects working to promote inclusive school settings, to recreational activities that bring young people with and without intellectual disabilities together to learn and develop friendships.

Through this partnership, Special Olympics, Harmony SEL, and Inspire Teaching & Learning will prioritize the development of relationship and leadership skills in adult mentors who support youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities across the globe. Young people equipped with the training and knowledge needed to lead also require counsel and support from adult allies to succeed. Through this partnership, an intergenerational leadership initiative will be developed and launched.

“We are so pleased to be collaborating with Special Olympics to bring our Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching and Learning programs to youth leaders. In classrooms and after-school programs nationwide, Harmony and Inspire are helping youth leaders of all backgrounds learn to lead, collaborate, and create a foundation that will last a lifetime.”
Randy Frisch, President of San Diego-based, National University

Using the existing Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching & Learning curriculums as a base, new trainings for Special Olympics will be developed to meet the needs and learning styles of young people with and without intellectual disabilities. The initiative will build the mentoring and relationship-building capacity of adults, who will then play an essential role in supporting the development of the young people in the program as the voices and leaders of an inclusive future. Through this partnership, the curriculum created will reach youth and adult leaders all across the globe, with the goal of training 10,000 young people.

About Special Olympics

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health, and leadership. With more than six million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries and territories and more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedInand our blog on Medium. Learn more at

About Harmony SEL and Inspire Teaching & Learning

Inspire Teaching & Learning and Harmony SEL are affiliate programs of the National University System. These no-cost programs strive to ensure that every student feels part of a safe, supportive learning community and that every teacher is equipped to create inclusive and engaging learning opportunities. Toward these goals, Inspire celebrates and supports pre- and in-service educators and staff with online professional development resources and adult SEL opportunities. By offering SEL skill development experiences across contexts through relationship-driven lessons and activities, Harmony helps students build and sustain relationships, giving them tools to grow into compassionate and caring adults. Harmony has been recognized as a CASELect program by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Learn more about Harmony at and learn about Inspire at

Media Contact

Ashleigh Webb

National University

Clare Cronin

Special Olympics