Over 400 students and teachers from Tecnológico de Monterrey High School & University in Mexico City, Mexico received recognition from ESPN and Special Olympics as the country’s first school to be a Special Olympics Unified Champion School.
In order to become a Unified Champion School, Tecnológico de Monterrey committed to standards of excellence outlined by Mexico in three categories: Unified Sports, Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole School Engagement.
ESPN Talent and former NFL Player, Ramiro Prunedo joined the historic event and left the student and teachers with this, “Choose to Include is what it's really all about. It doesn’t matter what different abilities you or others around you have. No matter what you will not be excluded - especially in sports. This is a phenomenal and a fantastic experience that I hope you will all cherish.”
Also in attendance was the General Director for the State of Mexico Campus for the Tecnologico de Monterrey schools, Mtra. Verónica Pedrero Padilla who spoke directly to the students and athletes about this essential recognition.
“Our students are our reason for being and we must keep in mind their dreams throughout their stay at the Institution. In order to maintain a focus on them and their integral experience, we have reinvented ourselves to LiFE, a training model of the Tecnológico de Monterrey that accompanies all students during their stay at the Institution, and that also contributes to the development of competencies, enhances their personal talent, leadership and self-realization. That is why PrepaTec has established an alliance with Special Olympics Mexico so that together they can join an inclusive Mexico,” says Padilla.
To kick-off the event, four Unified Pairs completed a torch relay run down the track, finishing with Yaroslavi Romero López, World Swimming Champion in the Special Olympics World Summer Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and Jesús Camacho Contreras, student of the Master in Business Administration, lighting the torch. From here, students and athletes completed in four Unified Sports experiences: Basketball, Soccer, Tennis, and Track & Field.
To conclude the event, ESPN Sports Commentator, Cristina Millan said, “This has proven that love and gratefulness are the highest vibrations and the most powerful energies. And that is what we just saw: The love and gratefulness that we have towards individuals with intellectual disabilities and that they themselves have for their partners and coaches. These are the most important forces that the world is missing for us to live better lives that we can share, and so many marvelous things life has to offer.”
Since 2017, Special Olympics Mexico has been growing Unified Schools programming in Mexico City with over 20 schools becoming Unified Schools. In partnership with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Special Olympics Mexico will be expanding upon this work in 5 states this upcoming year. Throughout the world, the partnership will expand the reach and impact of Unified Schools programming, resulting in approximately 2,000 new Unified Schools for the movement.