Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2022 – Today, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics North America announced a national partnership to provide inclusive programming in Clubs for young people with and without intellectual disabilities during out-of-school time. The goal is to combat the obstacles they face and realize new opportunities for social inclusion, leadership, and healthy lifestyles.
Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® is a strategy in more than 8,000 schools Pre-K through university across the U.S. that intentionally promotes social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities. Working in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, whose mission is to enable all young people to reach their full potential, Special Olympics will harness the powerful work being done at the grassroots level to create inclusive spaces using the Unified model. The melding of these two leading organizations will create new opportunities for systemic change for present and future generations of young people.
“At Boys & Girls Clubs of America, we know safety and a sense of belonging are essential to a young person’s success,” said Jim Clark, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We’re excited for our partnership with Special Olympics working together to expand opportunities for young people of all abilities to feel welcome and accepted as peers, teammates and friends, as part of a more accepting and inclusive future.”
Through this collaboration, Boys & Girls Clubs and Special Olympics Programs will work together to provide training and supporting resources to support local partnerships. This will in turn aid in Special Olympics athletes becoming fully integrated Club members and communities becoming more inclusive and accepting.
“Young people today face many challenges, from achieving personal and academic success to feeling emotionally and physically healthy and safe. Often, the school and social environment for young people is fraught with obstacles, impeding positive development. That is what we strive to overcome with the work we do,” said Andrea Cahn, Vice President of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. “It is truly an honor to partner with a like-minded organization that is also committed to empowering and supporting young people as they work to address these barriers and build inclusive schools and communities.”
Get a firsthand look at the impact in Greenwood, Mississippi.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. In a typical year, nearly 5,000 Clubs serve 3.6 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook or Twitter.
About Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® is a strategy in more than 8,000 schools Pre-K through university across the U.S. that intentionally promotes social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement. The three-component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with the knowledge, skills, tools and training to create classrooms and school climates of acceptance, respect, and meaningful inclusion. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in -- and feel a part of -- all activities, opportunities, and functions. The Unified Champion Schools program is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. Engage with us on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Learn more at GenerationUnified.org.