Youth leaders from Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) joined students representing the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) July 18-20 in Indianapolis for the National Federation of State High School Associations National Student Leadership Summit to focus on relevant and contemporary issues affecting today’s students in education-based athletics and performing arts. Students had a chance to sharpen their leadership skills and realize the privilege and power of their influence in their school, community and state, according to Special Olympics NC President/CEO Keith L. Fishburne.
Glendon Finley of Cary High School in Cary and Jacquelyn Hedrick of Sanderson High School in Raleigh focused on youth leadership skills and ideas on how to expand Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools and Unified Sports®initiatives in their schools. The pair delivered a speech about Unified Sports® in North Carolina and the impact it has had on each of them. They also established several goals for the 2016-17 school year including: incorporating a Unified Sports® session into NCHSAA’s annual leadership conference, expanding the partnership between SONC and NCHSAA youth leaders as well as bringing diverse leadership styles and ideas to the partnership.
Schools that qualify as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School use Special Olympics sports and education to activate young people to become “agents of change” and create inclusive school communities– fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Unified Sports® allows people with and without intellectual disabilities to participate in sports on inclusive teams to promote social inclusion through shared sports experiences. Having sport in common is just one way preconceptions and false ideas about people with intellectual disabilities are swept away leading to friendships and acceptance.
The SONC/NCHSAA partnership is part of a commitment from the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) to encourage state member associations around the country to advance the mission and goals of both organizations nationwide. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools are often the focus of these partnerships where Unified Sports® (people with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team together) is integrated as a sanctioned program of the state Interscholastic Athletic Association (IAA) for its member schools.
“We applaud Glendon and Jacquelyn for their hard work, energy and enthusiasm behind Unified Champion Schools and Unified Sports®,” said Fishburne. “We look forward to seeing their success in bringing more inclusive opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities throughout the school year.”
About Special Olympics North Carolina
Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers Olympic-type competition in 19 sports on local and state levels. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at www.specialolympicsnc.com. Engage with us on http://twitter.com/sonc_beafan;http://www.facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsNC and http://www.youtube.com/BeAFanSONC.
About North Carolina High School Athletic Association
The mission of the NC High School Athletic Association is to provide governance and leadership for interscholastic athletic programs that support and enrich the educational experience of students. The NCHSAA is a private, non-profit corporation with 399 member schools, certifying the eligibility of over 200,000 student-athletes annually and conducting championships in 23 sports. Visit www.nchsaa.org for latest sports news.