Special Olympics GB recently celebrated Play Uniﬁed Day – highlighting a successful ﬁrst year in UK schools of Play Uniﬁed!
Play Uniﬁed is the global movement aimed at ending intolerance towards young people with intellectual (learning) disabilities. It is celebrating a successful ﬁrst year, having promoted change in over 200 schools across the country.
The campaign is led by Special Olympics Great Britain and delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust – jointly funded and administered by the Department for Culture Media & sport (DCMS) and Sport England. It aims to change attitudes towards and perceptions of young people with intellectual disabilities through sport, working on the principle that playing and training together will create friendships and understanding between those with and without intellectual disabilities. The ultimate goal is to create a ‘uniﬁed generation’.
Play Uniﬁed held a series of youth summits across the UK throughout 2016 and early 2017, where young ambassadors were inspired to drive the campaign – using sport and leadership skills to break down barriers for people with intellectual disabilities.
Over 500 young people have joined the campaign as Play Uniﬁed Young Leaders, exceeding Play Uniﬁed’s twoyear target by 20% in just 12 months – with an even split of young people, both with and without intellectual disabilities.
Over 15,000 young people are now participating in Play Uniﬁ ed. Another aim of the campaign is to upskill 200 teachers across the country and it is well on track to achieving this after its initial school recruitment drive.
Chair of the Youth Sport Trust, Baroness Sue Campbell, said: “The Play Uniﬁed global campaign has played a critical role in breaking down barriers and promoting acceptance, tolerance and friendships for thousands of young people. It’s the young people themselves who are leading this change and we hope to see it continue to thrive in the coming years.”
The success of the youth summits has been signiﬁcant, with nine in 10 attendees stating that they now have a more favourable view of people with intellectual disabilities. Moreover, eight in 10 now have more conﬁdence in their leadership skills.
CEO of Special Olympics GB, Karen Wallin, commented: “For Play Uniﬁed to have made such an impact in its ﬁrst year is hugely gratifying. Young people with intellectual disabilities face a number of barriers in their lives – we hope that Play Uniﬁed will be instrumental to breaking those barriers down.
The response from teachers and pupils as well as whole schools and even wider communities has been fantastic but there is still much work to do. I truly believe that we will succeed in creating a ‘uniﬁed generation’ where there is acceptance, empathy and friendship among all young people.”
Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, Ali Oliver added: “The evidence from the ﬁrst year of Play Uniﬁed shows just how much can be achieved in the coming months and years. I look forward to seeing both the campaign and the ‘uniﬁed generation’ continue to ﬂourish.”
Special Olympics ambassador, Nicole Scherzinger supports the Play Uniﬁed campaign.