Expanding Inclusive Opportunities for College Students
Nicole is a Special Olympics Youth Leader and a student at Illinois State University who will lead a Youth Innovation Project to make her school into a Unified Champion College. Nicole attended Metea Valley High School, which was a Unified Champion school. She participated on her high school’s Unified Basketball team, and this experience inspired her to continue the mission of inclusion to her university. With the Special Olympics Illinois Summer Games hosted at her university each year, students have been exposed to Special Olympics, but Nicole is interested in creating an opportunity for deeper engagement in inclusion amongst her classmates and the community. While she will serve as the project’s main coordinator, Nicole believes that passionate students at ISU will join in the movement quickly and together build a student organization to change their school and community.
Through this project, Nicole plans to change how individuals in the community of Normal, Illinois perceive individuals with disabilities. By creating a Unified Champion College, there is a change for Unified Sports events led through the university to reach a larger audience and spread awareness of inclusion, not only at ISU, but other college campuses in the area and across the state. Nicole is excited to see this project grow and expand at her school and beyond. Based on her experience in high school and now college, Nicole is confident that this project will provide rich opportunities for Unified partners and Special Olympics athletes in the ISU community.
To Nicole, being part of the Unified Generation is motivation to make change. “Knowing that myself and others are living Unified and building friendships with all people serves as power to continue sharing the inclusive mindset. While this generation has made leaps in growth, I know there is always room for improvement.” With the beginning of a Unified Champion College program, Nicole’s project will continue to expand the mission of the Unified Generation.