The following is an excerpt from the article written by Timothy P. Shriver titled “To build inclusive classrooms, let young people with intellectual disabilities take the lead,” published by euronews.
“To help build truly inclusive classrooms and communities the world over, Special Olympics is convening a Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion, funded by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. This alliance of government leaders will develop an agenda of inclusive strategies in education and child welfare and push for the policies and money to make inclusion happen.
One proven way to do this is a ground-breaking, evidence-based Special Olympics program called Unified Champion Schools. In thousands of schools in 152 countries, students who don't have intellectual disabilities learn from those who do, and vice versa. These young people take the lead in creating welcoming social norms, as sports teammates, club members and participants in a wide range of school activities.
In these schools, we have seen a spirit of inclusion take root, offering a welcome alternative to the usual schoolyard culture of cliquey isolation and casual cruelty. The new norms are infused throughout the wider community, with peers inspiring peers to think and act in a better way—with inclusive minds. Unified sports and activities allow classmates to see one another as capable and gifted—as friends and equals. A good teacher can tell you this. But a good teammate can prove it. Children who learn to play together can learn, grow, and ultimately live together.”