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Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® Expand Across Romania

This year, Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® programme was the recipient of an exceptionally generous gift from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. Following a commitment made at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, His Highness Mohamed bin Zayed donated $25 million to promote and implement Unified Champion Schools (UCS) across the globe.

Special Olympics Romania was thrilled to learn that they would be among the six programmes to benefit from the investment. Unified Champion Schools have proven to be an important driver of social change and this will continue with expansion of the Unified Champion Schools (UCS) programme in Romania. UCS helps children with and without intellectual disabilities to develop a new understanding of inclusion through direct contact and collaboration in sporting activities, youth leadership, and engagement of every student and staff member.

Over the next four years, Special Olympics Romania is committed to bringing about many changes in the school system to improve the experience for students with intellectual disabilities. The UCS project will involve 240 schools across the country, covering 31 of the 42 Romanian counties. Thanks to the gift, the team will be able to invest in facilities, Unified activities and training for teachers to help children with intellectual disabilities all over Romania have a better scholastic career.

“We think this project will bring a different dimension to the term inclusion in Romania,” says Emilia Ispas, Director of the Unified Champion Schools project in Romania. “We strongly believe that we will build, step by step, the Inclusion Revolution in the 240 schools that will be part of the programme. We’re also sure that other schools in our country will look up to this model and will start implement it.”

The news of the donation was announced during the summer and was very happily received throughout the country. While the COVID-19 pandemic has sadly forced many schools to close, Special Olympics Romania has not stopped planning and working to promote inclusion in the school system. “We are hopeful and looking forward to seeing children in Romania become the new leaders of the Inclusion Revolution!” Emilia concluded.

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