Special Olympics and ESPN have shared a strong and fruitful partnership for more than 35 years. A testament to this alliance is the joint support and celebration of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® which has helped bolster the change-making influence of the Unified Generation.
This week, US Youth Ambassadors, Education Thought Leaders, and special guests including ESPN’s Tony Reali came together in Washington D.C. for Generation Unified 2019: Leading with an Inclusive Mindset. Throughout the two days, guests were immersed in thoughtful conversations and activities, which sparked new and innovative ideas about meaningful inclusion in schools.
Inspired by the passion and motivation of Youth Ambassadors from around the country, Reali took to the airwaves to share his enthusiasm for all things Unified with a little help from Daina Shilts, ESPN contributor and SO Wisconsin gold-medal winning athlete. Growing up, Shilts did not attend a Unified Champion School and was bullied. Through Special Olympics and Unified Sports, she was able to become an amazing snowboarder, build confidence and gain lifelong friendships. Her goal now is to grow the number of Unified Champion Schools in Wisconsin. Recently, she was instrumental in forming her previous high school, where she faced many hardships, into a Unified Champion School.
Three million young people participate in 7,500 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® across the US with support from the US Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education. These young people make up the Unified Generation. They are taking personal ownership within their schools and communities to ensure that everyone has the right to play, learn and live together through shared leadership opportunities of students with and without intellectual disabilities. To learn more about the Unified Generation, visit: https://www.generationunified.org/