On Saturday, February 2, Special Olympics New Jersey welcomed 43 student leaders and nine school advisors to the Sports Complex for the Project UNIFY Youth Leadership Conference. As you may recall, these same student leaders met for the first time back in November. This conference built on the lessons learned in that workshop, as the attendees began to put together plans for awareness campaigns in their own schools.
The Conference welcomed special guest speaker/facilitator Richard Cardillo from the National School Climate Center. He led the group through discussions on measuring school climate, tools for inclusion and acceptance at their own schools, and applying youth leadership to developing Unified Sports programs.
The group went on to set goals and activities for each Youth Leadership Committee’s Project UNIFY plan for this spring, which will include an awareness campaign for National Disability Month (March); student-created enrichment activities that might include videos and messages on morning announcements, poster contests, pep rallies, and a Respect word wall and banner signing events; or one or more school-based Unified Sports activities that will bring students of all abilities together as teammates, such as intramural events, Unified Sports clinics, sports expos and Unified recess or clubs.
These students are eager to get started. They returned to their schools ready to hit the ground running, implementing plans to launch their Project UNIFY programs in just a few short weeks. They will work with committee members, teachers and school administrators to put into action the activities they’ve created to build an inclusive community in their school where ALL students learn, play, grow and have fun – together.
Let’s recognize the schools participating:
Holmdel High School, Holmdel
The Hun School, Princeton
Madison High School, Madison
Montgomery High School, Montgomery
New Brunswick High School, New Brunswick
Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville
Nottingham High School, Hamilton, Hamilton Township
Old Bridge High School, Old Bridge
The Peddie School, Heightstown
Raritan High School, Hazlet
Robbinsville High School, Robbinsville
Steinert High School, Hamilton Township
Thanks to their hard work and great ideas, over 50 student-led Project UNIFY activities will be taking place throughout the state from now until June! Keep an eye out here for updates.