National Director for Special Olympics St Kitts and Nevis Mr Ivor Blake Will Be Travelling to the UAE

Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 24, 2023 (Special Olympics St Kitts and Nevis) — National Director for Special Olympics St Kitts and Nevis Mr Ivor Blake will be travelling to the UAE to participate in a meeting that will take place in Abu Dhabi from 24 – 28 January 2023. The activities in Abu Dhabi will consist of:  

  • School site visits to Unified Champion Schools in the UAE
  • Learning sessions with existing and new Special Olympics Program staff
  • Workshops to refine planning documents for the project for new programs such as Special Olympics St Kitts and Nevis.

Mr Blake’s trip is made possible as a result of Special Olympics St Kitts and Nevis being awarded a grant to expand Unified Champion Schools programming here in the Federation.   

Over the course of the year 2023, the Global Center will welcome 11 expansion Programs, including Special Olympics Saint Kitts and Nevis, and will provide the local Program with targeted support and mentorship. With a soon-to-be total of 17 Special Olympics Programs supported through the Global Center, the efforts of His Highness and Special Olympics are far exceeding initial goals and markedly expanding inclusion’s global footprint.

In 2020, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) Al Nahyan, now President of the UAE, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces bestowed upon Special Olympics a transformational US$25 million gift to establish the Abu Dhabi-based Special Olympics Global Center for Inclusion in Education. 

This gift continues to amplify Special Olympics’ and His Highness’s shared vision of a world where people of all abilities are included, embraced, and celebrated in their communities. Over the past two years of the initiative, Special Olympics’ efforts have had a significant impact on both policy agendas and individual mindsets, and community members are increasingly seeing people with ID for who they are—People of Determination. 

In awarding the grant to Special Olympics St Kitts and Nevis Chief of the Global Youth and Education for Special Olympics International, Dr. Jackie Jodl, Ph.D. expressed his confidence that “Special Olympics St Kitts and Nevis is equipped to continue investing in young people and is poised to further expand the reach of the Global Center.”  “On behalf of the Special Olympics Global Center for Inclusion in Education, thank you for applying to join the global expansion of Unified Champion Schools. We are eager for your partnership so we can continue pushing for inclusive education worldwide”.

To date, the six countries currently supported by His Highness through the Global Center have 

rapidly expanded Unified Champion School (UCS) programming to 542 new schools globally, impacting more than 411,000 youths, training over 3,500 coaches and teachers, and inspiring countless numbers of loved ones and community members to join our drive toward inclusion.   Two other Caribbean countries Special Olympics Bermuda and Trinidad and Tobago has also been awarded grants and will be represented in Abu Dhabi at the workshop.

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three-component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.

A Unified Champion School is a school that implements all components of the three-component model:

  • Unified Sports
  • Inclusive Youth Leadership
  • Whole School Engagement

The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners. What a Unified Champion School “looks like” can vary greatly from school to school, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each school; but the basic building blocks remain the same. 

The project in St Kitts and Nevis will involve a number of primary schools in the Federation.  Discussions with the Ministry of Education officials are ongoing and the plans for the implementation are in progress for the start in the first quarter of 2023.

For more information please contact; Ivor Blake at 662-5453 or Clarice Cotton at 668-2721 or email:sostkittsnevis@gmail.com.

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