‘Play Unified. Learn Unified’ project team looks to the future

The Global Project Team of the ‘Play Unified. Learn Unified’ project funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) had the opportunity to meet and look towards the future of the project under the sunny San Diego skies at the recent Unified Champion Schools Conference.
800x450 - SNF artciel lead photo.jpgSasha Stanojevic, Maria Rakova, Tobias Staebler, Milana Jeremic, Vasilis Kasimitis holding a Play Unified. Learn Unified. sign outside in San Diego, CA.

‘Play Unified. Learn Unified’ is part of a landmark collaboration between Special Olympics and Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to support stronger youth engagement worldwide and to transform educational systems through inclusive sport. Among the project team that gathered in San Diego was an enthusiastic delegation from Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, including Project Management Teams from Special Olympics Hellas (Greece), Serbia and Russia and Manager of Youth Engagement for Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, Tobias Staebler.

A Global Team converges

Over the course of five days, the Europe Eurasia delegation joined representatives of eight other National Programmes and Regional Project Managers to share, discuss, plan and generally set the stage for the second year of the ‘Play Unified. Learn Unified’ project.

Reflecting on the meeting, Aleksandar Stanojevic, National Director of Special Olympics Serbia, noted, “These five days made future work on the project that much easier as we got a chance to meet our friends from America, Africa, Asia, Europe Eurasia.”

Unified Champion Schools Conference

The whole group also attended the Unified Champion Schools Conference where participants gained an insight how Unified Champion Schools have been implemented in the USA and consider how they might be grown or introduced in other regions.

A group of Special Olympics team members smile for the camera holding a banner with the words 'Play Unified. Learn Unified' on it.
Global 'Play Unified. Learn Unified' team during school visit in San Diego.

The conference was also the first time that all 14 National and Regional Unified Champion Schools Project Managers came together and formed a global expert group for Unified Schools. The delegations took the opportunity to discuss and finalize their plans for Unified Sports activities in schools up until May 2020. One key aim is to ensure that 1,900 sustainable Unified Schools are in place across the world by 2021.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation drives Unified Schools in Europe

Speaking after the conference, Manager of Youth Engagement for Special Olympics Europe Eurasia, Tobias Staebler, said, “This global meeting and conference was a success from all perspectives. In only five days, a global group of experts has gathered to discuss and develop context-based strategies to ensure a high quality of Unified Schools across the globe. In our region, thanks to the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, we are excited to see a growing number of Unified Schools in five regions of Russia, the creation of more Unified schools in rural areas in Greece and the establishment of local Unified School hubs in Serbia.”