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.
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
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.
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
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!
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.
Unified Champions Schools Impact
Listen to this interview on how impactful Unified Champion Schools has been for these two students, Danny & Charlotte.
My Son Ooozes with Confidence
Before a baby arrives, parents talk about endless possibilities. They plan ahead and they make sure everything is perfect. Parents dream about a bright and beautiful path for their child, and that path is paved by their own experiences because, naturally, to that point, that’s all they know.
arrives that they’ve been waiting for and a child with intellectual
disabilities is placed in their arms. They are not sure at first how to
communicate their fears and the myriad of other thoughts and emotions that come
and go. Well-intentioned friends and
family have a hard time communicating, as well, which often makes things more
difficult. Doctor visits also are
discouraging as the general focus is defining what this child cannot do, as
opposed to what it can.
Dave, Jack Klawitter’s parents, made an early decision to blaze a trail down a
new path and to not be angry or frustrated but, instead, to celebrate their
child. They received a recommendation
from Jack’s physical therapist to try Special Olympics Illinois.
headed to Normal, Illinois, to have Jack participate for the first time in the
Young Athletes program. Anticipation of
that new experience came with fear and a roller coaster of emotions for
Brook. She noted that she didn’t know if
being involved in Special Olympics would come with a stigma. Instead, the experience became the first day of
Jack’s life when Brook and Dave enjoyed a sense of calm and community. “It was the first day we got to celebrate
Jack openly. Celebrate him. It wasn’t to compare. We just got to celebrate,” notes Brook. “In that day and in that moment. It was just
about being somewhere that we were comfortable.
Not measured. Not evaluated. And we got to be. People helped us
celebrate what Jack could do, not what he couldn’t do.”
recalls that the children participating in Special Olympics that day, and every
day forward, whether with disabilities or not, are ALL learning to run, jump,
kick, balance, and more, at the same time.
“Because he participated in Young Athletes, he could participate in the
exact same way! He didn’t know the
impact he was having,” she says.
can be seen through Jack’s two sisters, Sophia and Marion, who, Brook says,
“treat everyone like they are individuals and are incredibly supportive.”
involvement in Special Olympics Illinois also allowed the Klawitter family to become
part of something bigger that what they had known before, and they realized
that they were supported by an entire village of individuals who genuinely care
for both Jack and their whole family.
As is a core
goal for Special Olympics Illinois, the experience and environmental gains go
far beyond the fields of play. In Jack’s
case, and in the case of thousands of other athletes, Special Olympics helps to
develop lifetime skills for all chapters of that person’s life. Brook fondly notes, “Young athletes set him
up for PE and recess. In Kindergarten,
it is PE and recess when they set up social skills. (Jack) learned those skills and practiced
them on a regular basis.” She continues
with a specific example from their local park district t-ball league. “He was happy and confident participating
with all typically developing peers and you realize then, in those times, when
he is doing this confidently, that he is starting to change minds and
attitudes. These are the people that
need to see beyond the almond shaped eyes.”
listening to Brook speak, you hear the words of a proud mother boasting about
her son. This is the same mother that
looked at her newborn with Downs Syndrome and thought about that path of
success that she and Dave had mentally laid out prior to his birth. In many ways, that path is more firm and
straight that many parents in their shoes could imagine. “Jack oozes with confidence,” Brook says. “He sees every opportunity. Every moment, as
a new opportunity for success. Because
he has a thousand opportunities instead of ten, the 20 times when he HAS failed,
he shrugs it off and tries again.”
to summarize a few keys of what Special Olympics provides for Jack, Brook
notes, “(Special Olympics Illinois gives the) right support and process in
place for him. He is absolutely going to
be successful in that environment, and when he is successful, he grows
confidence and believes he can do the next thing. He sees everything as a chance to succeed.”
successes in just 14 years of life so far range from competitions won to hugs
and high-fives from peers everywhere. Before
Jack’s birth, Brook and Dave dreamed about a bright and beautiful future for
their child. They just had no idea that
the bright would come in the form of bronze, silver, and gold, and the
beautiful would come from the smiles on the faces of everyone who calls Jack
Klawitter a friend. From your friends at Special Olympics Illinois, Happy
Meet the 2019 Unified Coaster Challenge Ambassadors:
Meet the 2019 Unified Coaster Challenge Ambassadors
Special Olympics Illinois athlete and Unified Partner, Anna Scholler and Sydney Baumstark are the 2019 Unified Coaster Challenge ambassadors. Anna and Sydney, both Libertyville residents, became friends through Special Olympics. They play on a Unified soccer team called the Libertyville Storm. The girls share a love for soccer and roller coasters.
Anna has been a Special Olympics athlete for several years. She competes in basketball, bocce, bowling, floor hockey, track & field, and soccer. Anna just recently graduated from Libertyville High School.
Sydney is a sophomore at Libertyville high school. She believes being involved in Special Olympics as a Unified Partner is very important. Being a Unified Partner, Sydney has learned the power and positivity of sport.
“We are more similar then we are different, regardless of our ability level. We all have the opportunity to succeed through sport,” said Sydney.
Anna and Sydney are true thrill-seekers In their free time, you will find Anna and Sydney on their favorite roller coasters, the Raging Bull and X-Flight. Anna and Sydney are honored and excited to be the Unified Coaster Challenge Ambassadors this year.