Project Unify

Creating Environments of InclusionSoeren and Danielle will wow you with two tales from the front as they tell how they worked to create environments of inclusion at their school. They will share how the two of them have become empowered as leaders with ever-increasing spheres of influence. And they will call all educators to action: “Don’t wait to teach your students to become leaders 10 years from now. Let them start now.”
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Soeren Palumbo, 22 recently graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in English, Spanish, and philosophy. At ND, he served as the founder/president of Special Olympics Notre Dame, a student organization, as well as president of SuperSibs, a mentoring organization for local children with siblings with developmental disabilities. Outside of school, he has worked with Special Olympics for the last four years, during which time he co-founded the Special Olympics College and University outreach program as well as the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign. He now work as special assistant to Tim Shriver. In the fall, he will begin a three- year JD/MBA course of study at Penn Law School and Wharton. He has 3 younger sisters, one of whom (Olivia, 16) has a developmental disability.
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Danielle Liebl, 20, has been active with Special Olympics Minnesota since she was 11, including involvement in the Athlete Leadership Program where she trained as a spokesperson and leader for the organization. She now serves on their Board of Directors. Liebl competed in the Special Olympics 2006 USA National and was awarded the Minnesota State Council on Disability Youth Award in 2008. She was selected to attend the Special Olympics Global Youth Summit in 2009. During her senior year of high school, Liebl educated her peers about acceptance and inclusion by forming a Partners Club® promoting social activity between students with and without intellectual disabilities, and traveled to Minnesota schools as an advocate for change through the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign. Liebl spoke with Minnesota representatives in Washington, D.C. in January at Special Olympics Capitol Hill Day, was invited to attend a White House celebration in October for the enactment of Rosa's Law. Liebl interned last summer at Special Olympics International and presented at the 2010 Youth Activation Summit as part of the Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games. Liebl is a member of the Special Olympics Project UNIFY® National Youth Activation Committee and plans to continue her advocacy work as she enters her sophomore year of college at the College of St. Benedicts in Minnesota, majoring in Peace Studies and Theology.

This was a powerful Keynote Speech by both students. The message of intentional focusing on inclusion and helping one another was received well with a standing ovation.

The speakers asked- What does it mean to be human?
How do we humanize the dehumanized?
We must give young learners opportunities to learn how to live life to give back!
"Pay back the population"

Inclusion (in sports, classrooms, within the community) fuels the vehicle to move toward ethical communities.