Increasing Inclusion Peer-to-Peer
Lizzy and Taylor are Special Olympics Youth Leaders and members of the Special Olympics Michigan Youth Activation Committee. As they enter their final year of high school, they plan to increase engagement and inclusion through zLinks peer-to-peer program, a group that models the ideals and values of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools. The inspiration for their Youth Innovation Project came from being involved with this peer-to-peer program. They noticed that the greatest opportunities for growth and inclusion on campus come from interactions outside of the classroom.
To grow the peer-to-peer program, both Lizzy and Taylor will create classroom spaces that serve as outlets for students with and without disabilities to connect and share time together outside of sport practices and competitions. The space will be available for all students, including those already involved with Unified programming and those who would like to learn more.
The goal of Lizzy and Taylor’s project is to give students a better understanding of what it means to be Unified and create a better understanding of acceptance and inclusion. These classrooms will be between Special Education and general education classrooms to make the space easily accessible to all students who are interested in spending time together, and will increase daily interactions between all students on campus.
As they start the new school year, Lizzy and Taylor will definitely make a change in their community. As part of a Youth Activation Committee, the two have had the opportunity to enhance their leadership and grow within the Unified Generation. To them, being part of the Unified Generation is revolutionary. They see opportunity for building personal relationships and experiencing personal growth, while also “breaking the wall between our general education and Special Education students, where we see no barrier.”