Play Unified celebrates successful first year in UK schools with event at the House of Lords

29th March 2017

Play Unified, a global movement aimed at ending intolerance towards young people with intellectual (learning) disabilities, is hosting an event at the House of Lords to recognise a successful first year in schools across the UK. The campaign has promoted change in more than 200 schools across the country in the past 12 months and has already significantly exceeded its targets.

The celebration, to be held on 30th March, will showcase the impact of the Play Unified campaign to date and highlight the impact inclusive Youth Leadership and Unified Sports activity can have in creating a unified generation of young people from across the UK.

The reception invites the Chair of Governors from 40 schools nationwide to talk with delivery partners, schools and young people who have benefitted from Play Unified and discuss the importance of developing inclusive school environments.

Play Unified is led by Special Olympics Great Britain and delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust – jointly funded and administered by 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, where Young Ambassadors were inspired to drive the campaign – using sport and leadership skills to break down barriers for those with intellectual disabilities.

The success of the youth summits has been significant with 9 in 10 attendees stating that they now have a more favourable view of people with intellectual disabilities. Moreover, 8 in 10 now have more confidence in their leadership skills.

More than 500 young people have joined the campaign as Play Unified Young Leaders, exceeding Play Unified’s two-year target by 20 per cent in just 12 months – an even split of young people both with and without intellectual disabilities.

Over 15,000 young people are now participating in Play Unified. 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.


Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GB 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.”

Hosting the event, Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair of the Youth Sport Trust 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.”

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, 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.”

This Play Unified video provides an insight into the progress of the campaign.


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