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The Inclusion Revolution: Special Olympics holds first "Live Unified" for metro students with disabilities

By Allen Henry,

2023-03-15

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Hundreds of students gather at Target Center for first "Live Unified" event 01:49

MINNEAPOLIS – Hundreds of students gathered at Target Center Tuesday for the first "Live Unified" event.

The goal was to inspire students with intellectual disabilities, while having some fun.

It's not every day you get to assist Crunch the Wolf with a dunk. And for some of these students, it's not every day they get to step on any basketball court, let alone Target Center.

"You hear this all the time in the workplace, especially now, we need to be more inclusive, we need to be more welcoming," said Dave Dorn, president and CEO of Special Olympics Minnesota. "Well this is where it starts. It starts with our youth."

The event hosted more than 400 Minneapolis students, who rotated between different stations. They were having fun, and hopefully taking away some important ideas about inclusiveness.

"From the sports side to how you can look as a leader standing up in front of the group just giving those speeches about leadership skills and how you can make that difference in your school," said Demaya Walton, director of Unified Champion School. "It's a small sneak peek into what can really be magnified at your school level."

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"You want to have friends, you want to belong, you want to be part of a group. And that's what the Unified Movement does," Dorn said. "We all want to be included no matter who you are or where you are, and this really is what this is all about."

Organizers with Special Olympics Minnesota hope this first event grows to include more schools and more students.

"Our real hope is those kids then go on and graduate and they start changing our communities to be inclusive as well," Dorn said.

"If we do this right, there won't be a need for Special Olympics down the road because everything will be naturally inclusive. So we got a long way to go, but it's the kids that you see here today that are gonna lead that change."

Minnesota will be hosting the Special Olympics USA games in 2026.

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