On June 18, 2023, on the sidelines of the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, countries and organizations came together to launch the first-ever Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion.
The Coalition will strengthen education and social welfare systems, as well as improve information sharing and exchanges of best practices among countries that are deepening their commitment to social inclusion.
Students and educators face extraordinary challenges.
Learning environments are more fragile and fractured than ever before. In communities around the world, children are experiencing significant social and academic pressure in their schools, compounded by bullying and other harmful behaviors. Young people with intellectual disabilities are among those most undeserved by and isolated from education systems globally.
Over the next three years, the Coalition aims to:
- Create 150,000 Unified Schools where inclusive sports and peer-to-peer mentoring are embedded in academic curricula for students of all abilities.
- Bring 2,000,000 youth with and without intellectual disabilities into Special Olympics programs at schools around the world.
- Scale Special Olympics inclusive education through sports programming to 180 nations.
Coalition members are committing to work with Special Olympics to achieve their policy commitments by implementing transformational programming that will create more inclusive schools and communities.
Through this partnership, Special Olympics is helping countries fulfill their commitments to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as achieve Sustainable Development Goals for providing quality education and reducing inequalities.
Special Olympics and its partners will provide national governments with data and technical assistance to help them better serve learners with intellectual disabilities and design public-private partnerships to scale initiatives that support inclusive classrooms, schools and communities.
“By joining the Coalition, governments are recognizing the benefits of inclusive education for all students and walking the walk when it comes to fulfilling their obligations to create more inclusive societies. We’re just getting started, and this leadership coalition will continue to grow and support Special Olympics’ movement to foster acceptance and inclusion for all people in schools and communities around the world.”
Special Olympics and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) partnered in 2018 to expand inclusive sports in schools and communities around the world. The Play Unified: Learn Unified project extended the reach and impact of Special Olympics Unified Schools and Unified Sports to 21 nations and jurisdictions around the world, engaging 400,000 youth with and without intellectual disabilities in over 1,500 schools.
In 2021, Special Olympics and SNF elevated their global partnership by launching the Global Campaign for Inclusion. Driven by the inherent right of persons with intellectual disabilities to experience self-worth and be accorded the dignity which everyone is entitled, the Global Campaign for Inclusion is an ambitious vision of acceptance, empowerment and inclusion.