Programming Stories

Unified Champion Schools Program Internship


 

Position Title: Intern, Unified Champion Schools, Programs

Location: Lombard or Normal, Illinois (Partially Virtual)

Department: Program Services – Unified Champion Schools

Reports to: Jennifer Kelso / Jillian Hosteny , Unified Champion Schools

Hours: Approximately 20 hours per week (some flexibility possible)

Date Range: Approximately May 1 – August 31 (Depending on candidate school schedule)

Position Summary: This position will support the growth of Unified programming with a focus on school environments. This role will primarily support Special Olympics Illinois staff and school staff with project management, implementation, and evaluation.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Participate in department meetings and activities respective to the role
  • Create and develop programs alongside the UCS Team to capture and engage schools in the unified movement
  • Contribute internal processes related to data, operations, and reporting
  • Assist with resource development to enhance current Unified Sports, Youth Leadership, and Whole School Engagement programming
  • Assist with volunteer management (in person or virtually) and recruitment when necessary
  • Assist with planning and coordination of unified events related to sports, summits, and meetings.
  • Other duties and responsibilities as assigned by the UCS Team

Deliverables:

  • This internship will be interest focused to create a mutually beneficial opportunity for the successful candidate and their long term professional goals. One agreed upon project will be researched, complied and presented upon internship completion.
  • Webinar or online training introducing project to Special Olympics staff, youth leaders and educators
  • Recruitment and Outreach Plan to help grow participation through desired project.

Required Qualifications

  • High school graduate
  • Comfortable with leading Zoom calls and meetings
  • Proven computer skills, specifically: Email, Microsoft Word & Excel
  • Excellent verbal communication, accountability and organizational skills
  • Professional Email communication & ability to respond to all emails within 24 hours (during the business week)
  • Self-reliant and ability to work independently

Desired Qualifications:

  • Experience with Special Olympics
  • Passion to reach more athletes and partners, raise more resources and enhance the experience of events and programming.
  • Experience in coordinating events
  • Knowledge of Social Media and it use to advance organizational goals.

How to Apply:

If you are interested in applying for this internship position, please click the button below and fill out the application!

Apply Today!

Kinzi Loyd – A Star Who Shines Through Giving


 

Kinzi Loyd is a 29 year-old athlete who lives with her parents in Eldorado, Illinois. Born with Cerebral Palsy and Leigh’s Disease, Kinzi faces multiple motor challenges and depends on her mother and other family members for daily care. She is able to verbally communicate with those who are familiar with her, however she uses a communication device to communicate with others. Kinzi enjoys learning and, despite her limited motor skills, she is able to use a fisted knuckle on one hand to type on her iPad and laptop.

Kinzi has participated in Special Olympics Illinois for several years, and she is always ready for a challenge. For example, she competes in bowling the best way that she can – by bowling with her foot! She also enjoys competing in Spring and Summer Games, as well as basketball skills and motor skills.

When not on the field of play, Kinzi helps with Special Olympics Illinois fundraising events and serves as a Global Messenger for Region K. She participates in the annual Polar Plunge and Ducky Derby, and was recently chosen to be Duck Ambassador for her region in 2021. 

After graduating high school, Kinzi attended an outside workshop for adults with disabilities. She later decided that she wanted to pursue different avenues and started volunteering at the local elementary school. She worked with pre-school students and helped teachers by providing for and participating in activities with the students. She also worked at a nearby hair salon where she folded towels with the assistance of a personal support worker. 

When COVID cases continued to rise, Kinzi had to give up her volunteer work and also her position at the salon, but she did not let that stop her.  She loves to stay busy and keep her mind and body active. Despite her challenges, she is determined to continue to live a productive and rewarding life by helping others.

Over the years, her uncle has taught her about electronics and how to use various equipment for recording.  With some assistance, adaptations, and modifications, Kinzi was able to make recordings and decided to offer a special service to others from her home. She now helps families by taking VHS home movies and converting them to DVD format. She uses her computer to design a label and cover then prints them to make a professional-looking product. She only needs assistance with placing the tapes and DVDs into the players and placing the labels and covers. She is able to perform the whole process by using her remotes, computer, and iPad.

Kinzi provides her VHS-to-DVD service at a minimal charge, then donates all of the profits to Special Olympics Illinois.  The money she donates is used to support events and to help her own team, The Saline County Superstars Young Adults.  

Kinzi’s talents are portrayed in so many ways.  Whether it be through sports or creative fundraising, she makes a big difference in her community and is a star for Special Olympics Illinois. She loves participating in any way she can. Kinzi’s desire to help others, though, is and always will be what makes THIS star shine the brightest.      


Special Olympics Illinois eSports Fall League


 

The fall league will range from September 14th through October 16th, playing a variety of games. Click here to register!


Apolo Ohno Podcast Interview


 

Learn what what Apolo Ohno learned from sports and more on this episode of Special Chronicles!


Student Athlete Coordinates Inclusive Practices with Her Team


 

Meet Klaire Steffens, a sophomore student athlete at the University of Chicago.

She is majoring in Public Policy and minoring in Education and Society. Apart from being a member of the basketball team, she is on the executive board of the Women’s Athletic Association (WAA), co-president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and a member of the Trott Business Program.

Part of her role as WAA Promotions Coordinator is to organize inclusive practices with Chicago’s Special Olympics Illinois (SOILL) teams. Her teammate and co-president of the WAA brought inclusive practices to UChicago because of the belief that is shared with them all that, “regardless of a so-called ‘disability,’ these athletes deserve to play and practice on a stage as large as all of the hard work which they have put into their sport,” per Miranda Burt (Class of 2020).

The inclusive practices bring in local Special Olympics Illinois teams to practice alongside varsity athletes on campus. This past year they had soccer, flag football, and basketball practices.

In addition to the inclusive practices, WAA hosts an annual fundraising event, Slam Dunk, during the Women’s and Men’s basketball games to raise money for these teams. They raise funds through raffle ticket sales leading up to and during the games. Klaire is so moved when she is playing on the court and looks up to the stands to see some of the Special Olympics athletes that have practiced with the team. They come to Slam Dunk to support their teams as well as play in a basketball game with their athletes during halftime.

Beyond the inclusive practices, WAA usually hosts a Special Olympics Field Day in the spring. This is an incredibly fun day where all of these Special Olympics Illinois teams come together with the University of Chicago male and female athletes to play soccer, basketball, flag football, track, and tennis.

As a student-athlete, Klaire does undergo the typical stress of tests, assignments, and managing a 20+ hour weekly commitment to basketball. However, her involvement with Special Olympics always brings her and other athletes joy.

The SOILL athletes always arrive on campus with contagious smiles beaming across their faces. Whenever the team sets foot on the field or court, the Special Olympics Illinois athletes manage to keep those smiles while also turning their competitive juices on. During the practices Klaire forgets about whatever assignments she may have because she is all consumed in the fun and competitive atmosphere. Perhaps the most meaningful take away that she has had is the relationships that she has built by practicing with the same teams consistently throughout the year in a variety of sports. Some of her other fellow student athletes and Klaire are on a first-name basis with many of the SOILL athletes. Whenever they call out Klaire and her teammates names or come give them high fives, their hearts warm.

Many UChicago athletes have told Klaire that SOILL athletes make their day. They are given the privilege to deliver checks from the Slam Dunk money to some of the teams that practice with them. Seeing how hard the SOILL athletes work, their own practice facilities, and how meaningful the funds are is eye opening. They are grateful that they are able to help provide the SOILL athletes the gear that they deserve and experience practices with them.

The Special Olympic athletes’ passion for their sport radiates throughout the inclusive practices. Their passion reminds the UChicago team of the pure love and joy that comes from one’s sport.