Unified Leadership at College
Leah was named one of the Innovators of the Week! Click here to learn more about her story and the impact she is making in her community.
Leah is a Special Olympics Youth Leader who has always been passionate about making the world a more inclusive place. Now a college senior at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, Leah has determined the next steps to engage with her community and connect individuals with and without intellectual disabilities. Through an existing program, and the power of a team, Leah will lead her Youth Innovation Project to provide new opportunities for individuals at Whitman College and the surrounding area to get involved in Unified Sports.
Leah has identified a three-person Unified leadership team and other support to assist with the implementation of her project. Leah aims to partner with Whitman College’s Buddy Program, a campus program where students have the opportunity to meet with adults in the community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community. By pairing with this organization and a soccer team at the university for both individuals with and without intellectual disabilities, Leah and the Unified leadership team will offer a new Unified Sports team sanctioned through Whitman College. Expanding the Buddy Program in partnership with Unified Sports will allow for more students to connect with others in the community and on campus. It provides an outlet for those who have a passion for sports to team up and show others what inclusion is all about. And in addition to Unified Sports, Leah and the Unified leadership team will work with the Buddy Program to offer opportunities beyond sports for Whitman students to engage with people with intellectual disabilities from the community.
For Leah, being part of the Unified Generation is about more than providing opportunities, it’s about providing relationships. “It is so important to have an organization where peers can interact without barriers. Even if someone isn’t involved in the Buddy Program or the Unified Sports team, they see what inclusion looks like and the social stigma around disabilities is not as apparent. By breaking down social stigma, we’re creating a more unified and accepting community.”