SOKY Hosts West Regional Youth Summit

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SOKY Hosts West Regional Youth Summit

Falls of the Rough Was Setting for School Year’s Second Youth Summit

Western Youth Summit
Students at the West Regional Youth Summit show off some of their work.

Special Olympics Kentucky hosted its second Youth Summit of the school year on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Falls of the Rough State Park Lodge in Breckinridge, KY.  The Youth Leadership Summit, which is part of the Special Olympics Kentucky Unified Champion Schools Program, which brings together students, administrators, teachers and aides to learn more about creating school communities that are inclusive of students with intellectual disabilities.  It’s the third Youth Leadership Summit Special Olympics Kentucky has held since its first that was held in Louisville in March 2016.

In total, 97 high school and middle school students, teachers, and administrators from Olmstead Academy North, Eastern High, Bullitt East High, Murray High, Calloway County High, Marion C. Moore High, Waggener High, Bath County District, Kentucky School of the Blind, and Gryffindor Academy participated in the summit.  Activities were led by Special Olympics staff, Special Olympics Kentucky Education Leadership Network committee members and Kentucky State Youth Activation Committee members.  Attendees took part in breakout sessions lead by students, where they heard from their peers of the many things they are doing in their schools to make them more inclusive.  Teachers and administrators had the opportunity to hear from the ELN members and SOKY staff about how they can support their students and how the program can impact their school climate.  In addition, everyone was able to take part in inclusive activities that focused on the abilities of all individuals and how each can lead in their own special way to make their school a better place.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to host events like the Youth Leadership Summit, and we’ve been encouraged by the response from school systems statewide,” said Justin Harville, Special Olympics Kentucky Director of Volunteer and Program Services. “We see our schools becoming more inclusive of people with disabilities every day and we want to do everything we can to help that process. There is no better way to do that than to help teach the most important part of that process — the students themselves — how to lead that charge.”

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is a comprehensive effort to build stronger, more inclusive school communities through a program that includes Unified Sports, whole school engagement activities and youth leadership at the individual school level.

For more information about the Special Olympics Kentucky Regional Youth Summit, contact Justin Harville, Special Olympics Kentucky Director of Volunteers and Program Services, at (502) 695-8222 or via e-mail at [email protected].

Special Olympics is the world’s largest program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation in competitive events is open to all individuals eight years of age or older. Training and competition in local, area, state, and national programs is offered year-round in Kentucky in 15 sports. In addition to its traditional sports competitions, Special Olympics also offers early childhood programming through the Young Athletes Program and medical screenings though the Healthy Athletes Initiative. Special Olympics Kentucky has been changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in Kentucky for 47 years.

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