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UAE Commits To Making Schools More Inclusive At The Global Youth Leadership Summit

  • Special Olympics has created over 100,000 Unified schools around the world, and in partnership with Special Olympics United Arab Emirates has committed to expanding to every public school in the UAE
  • Over 150 youth and adult leaders from around the world will visit a local Abu Dhabi school to help launch the Unified Champion School program
  • This event will cement the legacy of the Global Youth Leadership Summit and the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 18 March 2019: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced their pledge to implement the Unified Champion Schools (UCS) program across all public schools.

This announcement was made between the UAE Ministry of Education, Special Olympics UAE, and Special Olympics Inc., with partnership by the British Council on the conclusion of a four day Global Youth Leadership Summit. The Summit is the largest, most diverse, and most Unified summit to date.

Using sports as the catalyst for change, the UCS program helps to support Special Olympics’ mission of building a more inclusive world through education. By embodying these principles the program inspires a generation that chooses to include at an early age. The UCS program will encourage social inclusion through Unified Sports, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement to help support youth in the UAE with resources to promote acceptance and respect in schools.

"It gives me great pleasure to see the UAE’s impressive efforts to incorporate the values of inclusion and diversity into the very fabric of school life. This positive step is a significant milestone along the journey towards an even more inclusive future marked by equal opportunity for all, without exception.”
Dr. Timothy Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman

This announcement comes at the end of the four-day Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Summit that brought together youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities to discuss their ideas of inclusion and implementation in their communities. At the core of Unified Champion Schools is inclusive youth leadership, the theme of the Summit. At the Summit, youth leaders from the UAE and around the world have engaged in discussions and activities surround their project. The leaders will take the projects home to implement in their communities. This showcases the legacy that will be left not only in the UAE—but around the world.

“This is an exciting stage in the evolution of our education system, and indeed the first such country-wide adoption in the Middle East,” added Mohamed Khalifa Al Nuaimi, Director of the Education Affairs Office at the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi. “I have every confidence that this ambitious, wide-reaching program will drive significant positive impacts across our society by creating school environments where diversity is valued, differences are celebrated, and every student is a contributing member.”

By hosting the Special Olympics World Games and by declaring 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, the UAE is making inclusion a priority for future generations. Their commitment to Unified Champion Schools cements their commitment to making the world an inclusive one.

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 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 190 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Microsoft, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium. Learn more at

Media Contact

Theresa Fitzpatrick
Special Olympics
+1 (202) 860-6642

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