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Plan Your Own Youth Summit

Plan your own youth summit

A Special Olympics Youth Summit brings together special needs and non-special needs youth to participate in activities and discussion. You can plan your own Summit in your school or community and help educate and mobilize people to help build a more accepting and inclusive world. Start organizing your own summit to discuss ways to reverse negative stereotypes and attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities!

-Get Permission: Youth Summits can be as short as a half day to as long as nine days! We recommend you just try for the school-based Youth Summit for a half day. Ask your principle and school administrators if you can use the gym or cafeteria or auditorium for your Summit.

-Make it official: Before you get started, you want to make sure you inform the Special Olympics so that they can send a representative to speak at and supervise your Summit. You also might want to plan your Summit around an event like a school or community awareness activity or a local Special Olympics event.

-Get Help: Putting together a Youth Summit is a big job and you won’t want to do it all on your own. So recruit a Summit Planning Committee to help. This may include teachers, students, parents, whoever you want—the more the merrier!

-Putting participants together: There are three groups of people you will need to recruit for a Youth Summit. You will need Special Olympics Athletes, partners, and chaperones or adult mentors. It isn’t necessary but it may be useful to select Summit participants from schools taking part in SO Get Into It program.

-Athletes: 10-20 Special Olympics athletes and no more than 50.

-Partners: 10-20 Partners and no more than 50—enough to match the number of athletes so you create pairs.

-Chaperones: Each pair needs an adult supervisor (over 21). The adult will also get to help facilitate the discussions.

-Create a schedule: Your agenda will depend on how long your Summit is going to be. Youth Summits can be as short as a half day to as long as nine days! We recommend you just try for the school-based Youth Summit for a half day. Here is what your schedule could look like but this is just a sample and you can change it to fit your needs:

8:30am Welcome and Introductions of activity organizers (Special Olympics representative, athlete, student leaders)

8:40am Review topics for discussion

9:00am Break-out small group discussions and action plans

10:00am Break for snacks

10:15am “Changing attitudes” activity (make posters, design T-shirts, Unified Sports activity, etc.)

11:00am Reports of action plans from small groups

11:30am Wrap up comments from organizers and dismissal

-Communication is key: You want to make sure you keep in touch with the participants throughout your planning process. Keep them as included as possible and communicate via conference calls, e-mails etc.

-Discussion topics: You should ask participants to submit ideas for discussion topics—that will make your job easier! Let them know what you are looking for and make a list of the best questions. Here are some good questions to get you started—you want to make sure to have a cohesive list that includes questions for both the athletes and the partners.

1) Have you ever seen kids with disabilities being teased? Does it hurt?

2) Have you ever used the word “retard”?

3) Does it help you to have friends who do not have a disability?

4) Why did you decide to become an athlete/partner in the Special Olympics?

5) How are kids with disabilities treated in your school, town, country?

6) What are some of the things you have learned by being a friend with a person with a disability?

7) Do you think that kids with intellectual disabilities should go to school with kids who do not have a disability?

8) What do you do when someone gives you grief for your disability?

9) What is your message to the other kids in your school?

-Transportation and food! Make sure you plan out how everyone is going to get to your decided location. And make sure if you are having a full day event you plan for meals! Even half-day events should have a scheduled snack break.

-Follow-up: Establishing the follow-up action plan is super important before you dive in. You might want to contact your school paper or local media to cover the event. Make sure to document your Youth Summit! Take pictures, write stories and send it to Special Olympics.
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