CHICAGO, January 9, 2020 – Special Olympics Illinois, the only Illinois entity accredited by Special Olympics Inc., is opening a Chicago headquarters in the West Loop as the Chicago-born non-profit expands programming to ensure people with intellectual disabilities an ever-expanding opportunity for growth.
The Chicago office for Special Olympics Illinois (SOILL) will bring the organization closer to a growing constituency in the city as it expands and introduces new programs. Roughly, 53,000 people in Chicago live with intellectual disabilities. Currently, Special Olympics Illinois serves about 6,000 athletes, ages 8 and older of all ethnicities.
“We are moving into the West Loop to expand our work in Chicago. We want Chicagoans to know Special Olympics is much more than a track meet. We are a leader in health services for people with intellectual disabilities and we enhance life skills to build confidence,” said David Breen, president of Special Olympics Illinois. “And with our key partners, many of whom are in the city, we can work together to bridge inclusion hurdles, so our athletes have equal opportunities to prosper as contributing adults.”
Already in Chicago, Special Olympics Unified School programming is offered at 19 Chicago Public Schools. Unified Champion Schools (UCS) is an all ages, education-based program supported through the Federal Department of Education. At Unified Champion Schools, students with and without intellectual disabilities work together to develop, skills and opportunities to build change and help their schools develop true cultures of inclusiveness.
Later this month, SOILL will host a professional development seminar for schools that have implemented Unified programming and for those interested in learning more. It is the first of several informational meetings planned for the year. Significant expansion plans throughout CPS are on tap for 2020 adding to the expanding list of 280+ UCS schools throughout Illinois.
Ahead of the move into Chicago, SOILL hired an outreach director to work with Chicago Public Schools to expand programming for students with intellectual disabilities. Also, SOILL hired a government relations specialist to expand development and partnership opportunities for the Chicago region.
The West Loop office will provide SOILL additional opportunities to help corporate sponsors to work on solutions for workplace diversity and inclusion issues. “Inclusion creates career opportunities for our athletes, and we are at a time when companies are looking to us for help on implementing their goals for a more inclusive workforce,” Breen said.
“Furthermore, given the area’s continued business and residential growth, our new office will help us better connect with the city’s young professionals looking to spend time with our inspiring athletes and growing our mission.”
SOILL will host an invitation-only Open House on January 15 in its new space, 820 W. Jackson Blvd. The Chicago office will complement Special Olympics Illinois’ existing state headquarters in Normal, Ill.