Students Participate in Two UCS Youth Summits in March

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Students Participate in Two UCS Youth Summits in March

More Than 150 Students Met to Build Stronger Communities and Increase Inclusion at Their Schools

Students sit around a table working on an exercise including legos.
Students at the Lexington Youth Summit work on communication during an activity with Legos.

March saw Special Olympics Kentucky, through its Unified Champion Schools Program, hold a pair of Unified Youth Summits. Three of our UCS National Banner Award recipients – Eastern High School, Ryle High School and East Carter High School – took part in the summits, with two leading the events in Northern Kentucky. The summits gave students an opportunity to participate in team building exercises, discuss what is most important to them in their schools and create action plans to increase inclusion in their schools.

Thoroughbred Center in Lexington hosted the first summit event. It was attended by Eastern High School from Louisville and first-time attendee schools Great Crossing from Scott County, Henry Clay High School and The Learning Center from Lexington, and Berea High School and Madison Central High School from Madison County.

The Northern Kentucky Youth Summit was hosted jointly by East Carter, which drove more than two hours to participate, and Ryle High School. Groups from Beechwood High School, Highlands Middle School, Scott High School and Simon Kenton High School took part. Newport High School was also represented at the summit.

Two groups of four students each attmepts to throw a bean bag back and forth using slings that each student helps control.
Students at the Northern Kentucky Youth Summit attempt to pass a bean bag to each other using slings that each of four students help control.

At both events, the groups participated in a communications exercise, played a game where teams had to learn how to work together to throw and catch nerf balls and bean bags with a sling and used a set of inclusion cards to talk about what each person thought was most important to them and then to work on a priority list for their group.

After lunch, groups worked on their plan to take back to their schools to help make their programs and their schools stronger.

In all more than 150 students participated in what was Kentucky’s first Unified Champion Schools Youth Summit since East Carter hosted a summit that was held at West Carter High School in September 2022.

The purpose of the Leadership Summit is to engage with and learn from fellow Students, Teachers, Coaches, and SOKY Staff.  The event is primarily student-led and the individuals you meet are leading efforts in their respective schools to build more inclusive environments! The goal is for each student and their teachers to leave the Summit with new ideas and excitement to lead unified activities and sports. Students attend the summit in Unified Pairs which include a student with intellectual disabilities and a peer student partner.

For more information about Unified Youth Summits or about our Unified Champion Schools program and how your school can be involved, contact Karen Michalak-Parsley at 502-326-5002 or [email protected].

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