Unifying a City
Natalie and Megan are Special Olympics Youth Leaders and best friends who recently graduated from Olympia High School in Washington. Together, they co-led Bear Crew Two, their school’s Unified Club where individuals spend time outside of school engaging in activities that promote inclusion and friendship. Outside of this club, they also competed on their Unified Basketball Team. Between the various Unified events led on their campus, they noticed a shift toward a more inclusive community. Students with disabilities who were once not involved in activities have friends who they can high-five and share stories with as they walk through the halls. The change of acceptance in their school led Natalie and Megan to lead a Youth Innovation Project that would make the same change in a larger community.
Together, the two decided to start a program, with the assistance of their basketball coach and mentor, Mr. Antonio, called Unified Olympia Community Activities. With the experiences and memories Natalie and Megan had as members of Bear Crew Two, the two wanted to provide these same opportunities to a larger audience in Olympia. Within the Unified Olympia Community Activities program, individuals will be able to participate in picnics, bowling outings, and other events where community members will learn what it means to be unified and inclusive.
Since Olympia High School is the only school in the area that provides Unified Sports, students from nearby schools will be invited to participate in these events. When others have a chance to participate in these events, Natalie and Megan hope they will start Unified Programs in their school and truly make a Unified Olympia.
Natalie and Megan are excited for the opportunity to see individuals with intellectual disabilities interacting with students and other community members in a variety of settings. This project will allow individuals to be themselves and form new friendships along the way. Natalie and Megan believe that the Unified Generation is about the power youth have to inspire and influence the next generation. “We can help to change the social culture and stigma around disabilities.”
Together, the two are excited for this opportunity to show people of all abilities working together to create a city that is the epitome of the Unified Generation.