13th March 2017
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 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 & early 2017, where Young Ambassadors were inspired to drive the campaign – using sport and leadership skills to break down barriers for those with intellectual disabilities.
Over 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.
A celebration event is taking place with participating schools at the House of Lords in March. It will highlight some of the campaign achievements so far and look ahead to plans for the next 12 months.
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.
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.”
Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, added: “The evidence from the first year of Play Unified show 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.”
#PlayUnifiedDay Twitter Video link: https://twitter.com/SOGreatBritain/status/841141975994769408