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Community Impact

Advancing Inclusive Education in Kosovo with Unified Sports Opportunities

Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion welcomes Kosovo at signing ceremony in Pristina
Group of people wearing formal clothing while holding a sign that says ‘Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion’
Kosovo is one of 17 Government Coalition members who have so far ratified its commitment to the Global Coalition

Kosovo has reaffirmed its commitment to advancing inclusivity in education and sports by formally becoming a member of the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion during a signing ceremony held in Pristina on 22 April 2024.

This pledge is aimed at expanding inclusive sports and educational opportunities for young people with and without intellectual disabilities across schools throughout the country.

“In joining the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion, Kosovo proudly reaffirms its commitment to promoting sports as a tool for the full integration of people with intellectual disabilities. This all started with Kosovo’s participation at the World Games Berlin 2023 with the full support of the Government.”
Daulina Osmani, Kosovo Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport

Over the next three years, hundreds of educators will receive specialized training. This comprehensive effort encompasses various initiatives, including:

  • Professional development workshops for teachers concentrating on supporting students with intellectual disabilities and Special Olympics initiatives.
  • Enhancement of leadership competencies for students with and without intellectual disabilities.
  • Allocation of resources towards school-based sports and fitness activities, facilitated by Special Olympics and partners, spanning from 2024 to 2026, and fostering participation among individuals with and without intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President & Managing Director David Evangelista said, "As we focus on education and inclusion, we remain steadfast in our commitment to using the power of sports—in all settings—to drive systemic change where it’s needed most. By promoting Unified Sports initiatives in schools, sports clubs and more, we are not just strengthening communities but also empowering a generation where diversity and inclusion are the norm.

Three men holding a Special Olympics branded football
SOEE President David Evangelista joined Special Olympics Kosovo athlete Florent Haziri and Kosovo Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Hajrulla Ceku at the signing ceremony

"I extend our sincere gratitude to the Kosovo government, and our esteemed partners, particularly the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, for their dedication in making this vision a reality for nations around the world.”

Recent studies show that children globally face social and academic challenges in today's educational environments. Particularly, individuals with intellectual disabilities often lack adequate support and experience social isolation.

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools initiative emphasizes Unified Sports, aiming to foster social inclusion through sports and leadership roles. Built on the belief that shared training and play cultivate solidarity and empathy, Unified Sports brings together students of all abilities to participate on an equal footing within the same team.

The Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion is a pioneering multilateral effort to support people with intellectual disabilities. For the first time, governments, industry, philanthropy and the development community have come together with a shared global commitment to increase inclusive practices in education, sports and communities.

Over the next three years, Coalition members have committed to expanding inclusive sports and education opportunities to over 2,000,000 young people in more than 150,000 schools and scaling Special Olympics programming to 180 nations.

Government Coalition members include: Angola, China, Egypt, Ghana, Gibraltar, Iceland, Kenya, Kosovo, Jamaica, Malta, Mongolia, Montenegro, Panama, Paraguay, Seychelles, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

The Coalition, made possible by a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), drives a public-private partnership model that also engages United Nations agencies, development aid agencies, global philanthropic leaders, corporate leaders and more.

More information on the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion can be found here..

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