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NFA Hosts Special Olympics Leadership Summit

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Newburgh Free Academy hosted a half day Special Olympics Leadership Summit this week. NFA Unified students joined different districts to learn and grow together! NFA student, Gianna Puleo, Youth Activation Committee (YAC) President gave a presentation.

Did you know? 50% of student partners use their experience with Unified athletics either to build a career or continue to support career development through volunteer experience.

Earlier in the week, NFA Unified hosted Inclusion Night during the Girls Varsity Basketball game. Throughout the day and as spectators entered the game, they were asked to fill out a #ChoosetoInclude message. Baron, an NFA student read a unified pledge at the start of the game. The messages of support were on display for all to see at the Special Olympics event.

Earlier this year, Newburgh Free Academy was awarded the Development in Program award by the New York State Special Olympics Committee. In 2014, NFA introduced a volunteer Special Olympics Club. In 2017, NFA established the NFA Unified Basketball team. In 2021, NFA had a Special Olympics volunteer bowling club. NFA Unified Bowling just finished their inaugural year.

NFA Unified sports create unity and camaraderie! In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away. Unified Champion Schools promotes social inclusion by bringing together young people with and without intellectual disabilities on sports teams (Special Olympics Unified Sports) through inclusive student clubs, together in school or community-wide initiatives, and by fostering youth leadership.

Team sports bring people together. Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams do that, too and much more. About 1.4 million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a really fun way. ESPN has served as the Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports since 2013, supporting the growth and expansion of this program that empowers individuals with and without intellectual disabilities to engage through the power of sports.

Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

On the horizon, the Youth Activation Committee is accepting donations for a dance that will be held at the end of March at Temple Hill Tavern. This activity will be a celebration of diversity and common goals.

NFA Unified is coached by Ms. Sandy Baines & Ms. Christy Puleo.

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