On January 23, 2019 Voorhees High School (VHS) hosted its first Youth Summit, on behalf of the Special Olympics Unified Programs. VHS was asked to host this event due to our Unified Champion School Status. The overall objective of the Youth Summit is to inspire youth in other school districts to become leaders of the Unified Generation, and assist them as they begin their journey to Unified Champion School status. Other schools in attendance included Woodglen Middle School, Somerville High School, Franklin High School, and North Hunterdon High School. Combined, the program’s audience was around 150 students and staff.
The VHS Unified team was tasked with planning the opening of the event: VHS Youth Leaders ran the morning session of “Ice-Breakers”, and most notably, they were asked to present about the Voorhees Unified Program to our visiting schools.
Unified students enjoyed the day of collaboration and discussion about how to increase inclusion and unify their school communities. Viktor the Viking, a generous donation customized to Voorhees’ unique mascot, made a number of appearances such as: welcoming schools as the buses arrived, participating in “Ice Breakers” and dancing with all Unified members showing true Viking pride, and the spirit of inclusion.
Special Olympics representatives led the remainder of the day’s activities introducing their new initiative, “The Revolution is Inclusion,” along with their accompanying ‘Manifesto’ of Youth Leadership. The Inclusion Revolution manifesto demonstrates the positivity and spirit of this movement, inviting the world to make a commitment to join.
The Inclusion Revolution Manifesto
We are not just athletes.
We are the ambassadors of an uprising-
Peaceful protestors in a rebellion against anyone who has a fear of difference.
Our demands are equality, dignity and the recognition of our shared humanity.
We will not stop or accept anything less.
We are deserving.
When we compete, we’re fighting for a more inclusive world.
We are champions on the field and for this cause.
Today, our world is more divided than ever,
And coming together has never been more urgent.
The revolution is inclusion.
And it’s not optional.
The only choice you need to make is how you will join it.