Special Olympics Unified Schools build on the concept that playing sports together is a quick path to understanding those around you as well as a way of forming new friendships. In El Salvador, Unified Schools unite students with and without intellectual disabilities to play Unified Sports together. These inclusive events allow students to form new friendships and increase their athletic and social skills.
Thanks to the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the transformative power of Unified Schools has led to the formation of many new friendships among students who otherwise may have never had the chance to meet. An example of this impact is the friendship between Gaby and Amy, a Unified pair from the city of San Salvador.
Without Barriers (Sin Barreras)
Although they are not related, Gaby and Amy refer to each other as sisters. They met three years ago at a Unified Schools event where Gaby was a Special Olympics El Salvador Athlete Leader and Amy was a Unified Partner with the Scouts Association of El Salvador. After striking up a friendship, the duo paired up as colleagues and have since advocated inclusion throughout the country.
Like Sisters (Como Hermanas)
As an active member of the Scouts Association of El Salvador, Amy assisted in the creation of a partnership between Scouts and Special Olympics El Salvador. This partnership has given opportunities for Scouts and Special Olympics El Salvador athletes to shares new experiences with one another and create a generation of leaders of all abilities that want to serve their community.
Scout’s Honor (Honor de Explorador)
Gaby and Amy were also present at the signing of an official agreement between Special Olympics El Salvador and the Department of Education in the Salvadoran town of Chalatenango. In the video below, the Director of Education in Chalatenango states the success of Gaby and Amy as a Unified pair motivated him to create similar opportunities for students both with and without intellectual disabilities in his community.
Passport to the Future (Pasaporte al Futuro)
Gaby and Amy’s success as a Unified pair highlights the importance and potential of giving young people with and without intellectual disabilities the chance to lead together. By co-hosting inclusive projects in their community and holding conversations with school and government officials about the importance of Unified Schools, Gaby and Amy are changing the perspectives of people around them and receiving support and recognition from their loved ones for their efforts.
There is a light (Hay Una Luz)
Even with all their success, Gaby and Amy do not plan to slow down any time soon. They will continue to spread awareness of Unified Schools and their work, as well as the benefits of their friendship with schools, teachers, and fellow community members. In doing so, Gaby and Amy are actively creating welcoming spaces where people of all abilities can thrive and be accepted for who they are.