Posts Tagged “Special Olympics Illinois”

Why do we do what we do?

by Susan Hoyer.

Each person involved in Unified Champion Schools, and Special Olympics does it for their own reasons.  They each have wonderful experiences that build up to this day, and this moment. What brings us together?  The belief that everyone deserves respect!

Here are some stories from the members of the Unified Champion Schools Youth Activation Committee!

What’s your story? 

My experiences and how I got to the position I am today is one of my favorites. It started in my freshman year of high school. At my school you are required to take 6 quarters of PE to graduate. I was chosen to be a part of the adaptive PE and from there the story begins. Today I have taken all four years of adaptive PE because it’s my beginning and favorite part of the day. My junior year I started to go to the teachers room to work with the students with disabilities instead of going to my study hall. Also my junior year was the first year that I was a key club officer and actually the first male key club officer. Then my teacher asked me to go with him to the YAC summit. From there everything boomed. I have realized that this is not only a passion of mine but also what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have never been so blessed in my life thanks to the amazing friends I have made. They are my other family and I am so happy I have this opportunity.

It has been fun to be a part of Unified Champion Schools. I enjoy playing Soccer, Flag Football, Bowling, and Basketball. I like helping my teammates and making friends.

I am a 15 year old Freshman. This year is my second year in YAC but my fifth year being involved with Special Olympics in general. Back when I was in fifth grade, I always had interest in working with kids, with and without disabilities. I fortunately got that opportunity and it started a love for working with kids that everybody labeled different, but I knew we were the same as me. As time went on, I started wondering what else I could do with my newly found passion. My teacher thankfully introduced me to the many Unified Sports that were available. My 7th and 8th grade year I played both Bocce and Soccer, and fell in love with it, which led me to apply for the YAC Committee where I am right now, and where I am planning on staying as long as I can. I would like to expand what sports I can play through Special Olympics so I can get a chance for my love to grow for Special Olympics. Also, with being accepted into the Committee, I have met a lot more people that share my passion and that try to involve Special Olympics into their everyday lives. Special Olympics has given me the opportunities that no other thing has given me. As long as I am able to participate in these activities, I will not throw away my passion for anything in the world.

In sixth grade my teacher came to my team and asked if anyone would be interested in helping students with special needs in PE (our tutorial).  I signed up, not knowing that it would change my perspective on respect, on people, and on the world.  I did it every Tuesday and Thursday and those days, turned into my favorite days.  I met my partner and we had fun together, so I’m hoping he did.  I don’t know if many people realize it, but adapted PE doesn’t just impact the athletes, it leaves a mark on the partners too, if not a bigger one.  We left the gym every day knowing that we changed the world.  Maybe not in the world’s eyes, but in our partners.  We helped them do what they love.  Just knowing that they were happy, was all of the thanks we needed.  Nobody will understand how amazing it is, until they’ve done it themselves.  I am doing this because I want to continue to spread respect and love to the kids with special needs.  I love getting to work with them and I can’t thank God enough for giving me the opportunity to do so.  They are the sweetest things in the world, people just have to be willing to give them a chance. My memories with my friends, and the memories that are to come, are memories that I will never forget, because the day I stepped into that gym, my view on the world, completely changed.   

Check out our blog in the upcoming weeks to see more of our stories!

Preparing for the Unified Champion Schools Youth Activation Summit!

by Susan Hoyer.

We recently had an amazing Bootcamp weekend with all of the students who will be teaching sessions at the Youth Activation Summit in November.  The powerful model of Unified Champion schools is students teaching students. We know that students pay more attention to what other students have to say, and the expectation for participating in our summit is that the students will take away information to implement inclusive and unified activities, as well as, a Respect Campaign in their home schools and districts. What better way to get ideas and be inspired, than from people that are just like you? Students relate to each other, and can have authentic conversations about their struggles and successes.

2016 Youth Activation Summit Registration Form

Project Unify Participation Slip

Check out some of our wonderful participants!


 “Partners Amira and Sydney having fun at bootcamp! They are both very excited for the upcoming Summit!” Sydney Strobel- ISU Amira Khoija- IVCC

“Partners Amira and Sydney having fun at bootcamp! They are both very excited for the upcoming Summit!”
Sydney and Amira

 So excited to plan and get ready for the summit! Tom,Abby, Max, Matthew, Katherine, Kim

So excited to plan and get ready for the summit!
Tom,Abby, Max, Matthew,
Katherine, Kim

Hi! My name is Grace Seiboldt and I am a sophomore at STEPS. My new friends are Erin, Abby, Tom, Sue, Eddie and my advisor, Ms. Pehlke.

Hi! My name is Grace My new friends are Erin, Abby, Tom, Sue, Eddie and my advisor, Ms. Pehlke.

Clear Channel Promotes Special Olympics

by Jamie Scovel.

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Chicago, one of the largest Chicago radio broadcasters with more than 5 million weekly radio listeners, has selected Special Olympics Illinois as one of the benefiting non-profit organizations included in the Clear Channel Communities initiative.

For the month of September,  Clear Channel Chicago will donate significant on air and digital airtime across its cluster of seven stations [107.5 WGCI-FM, 103.5 KISS FM, V103, Inspiration 1390AM, 95.5 El Patrón, 97.5 ESPN Deportes and 93.9 MYfm] to Special Olympics Illinois.

The Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne, Chicago White Sox’s third baseman Conor Gillaspie, Chicago Fire’s Benji Joya and Blackhawk’s Brandon Saad have all lent their voices to public service announcements that urge listeners to realize the power of sports.

Special Olympics Illinois strives to deliver high-quality training and competition in an inclusive culture that stresses athletic excellence, rewards determination, emphasizes health and celebrates achievement. The organization currently serves about 10 percent of those eligible to participate and is always working to increase this reach.

Special Olympics Illinois is thrilled to have this opportunity to spread awareness of all we do.