Special Olympics’ youth-focused education strategy, Project UNIFY®, recently announced the appointment of 11 new members to the National Youth Activation Committee (YAC), a group that empowers young people to engage in active social change.
Among the honorees were Special Olympics New Jersey athlete Erin Meyer and her Project UNIFY® partner Lindsay Conlan, both from Holmdel High School. These candidates were selected from applicants across the United States and exemplify extraordinary leadership skills and passion for the Special Olympics movement.
Conlan first became interested in Special Olympics because her younger brother is a Special Olympics athlete. At school, she got involved in the Best Buddies program where, after being promoted to president, she brought Project UNIFY® to campus. She worked to expand offerings both in and out of school for her peers with intellectual disabilities.
This is where she met and formed a strong friendship with Meyer. Conlan was invited to and asked to bring an athlete with her to the national conference in North Carolina this past July. She chose Meyer, and at the conference both were appointed to their state and national YAC.
The National Youth Activation Committee, which is currently in its sixth year, is comprised of young people with and without intellectual disabilities from across the country who work together to promote the core components of Project UNIFY® – Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and awareness and education initiatives that impact entire schools– and foster inclusive communities where all young people are agents of change. With the appointment of the newest members, the National Youth Activation Committee will include 21 active and engaged young leaders from around the country, eight of whom have intellectual disabilities.
“We are excited to welcome a new class of exceptional youth leaders to the Project UNIFY® team. These students will bring their passion and dedication to a national stage by advocating for social inclusion and positive school environments of acceptance and respect for all,” said Andrea Cahn, Senior Director of Project UNIFY®.
Currently, over 35 schools in New Jersey are actively participating in Special Olympics Project UNIFY® and as many as 10,000 young people have been impacted by the messages of inclusion, acceptance, dignity and respect for all people, including those with intellectual disabilities.