Special Olympics Project Unify is a service-learning program making positive changes to school climates in Illinois. Central School is recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as a “Unified School.” The success of Project Unify is manifested in the inclusive friendships formed as youth with and without disabilities work together as leaders to create communities of caring and respect.
Through Project Unify, students with and without disabilities are able to spend time together, sharing laughter and building friendships that might not otherwise have blossomed. It’s a way for all kids to have the chance to be a part of something great!
We have 100 students in Project Unify at CIS. These kids come at various times throughout the day and week. We talk about respect, bullying and the need for friends. The kids learn sign language and they learn about the various types of adaptive equipment and communication devices our students use. They enjoy playing games, singing, dancing, and watching video clips that spur discussions about standing up for what is right and showing others that they care. We recently had a month of “Random Acts of Kindness,” in which the entire school participated. We go to the various after-school functions together and make sure that all kids feel a part of the school community. Later this Spring, we will be working with folks in the community to help us plant a “Project Unify Garden” here at school.
We have a core group of Project U kids that come to my Life Skills classroom daily to help out with our kids and make them feel important and needed. These students have gone with me to each classroom at Central to teach other kids about disabilities, Special Olympics and Project Unify. They have done an amazing job of learning, teaching and showing respect and caring.
Project Unify is changing our school by promoting such a positive climate, building character, preventing bullying, enhancing student engagement and building leadership skills. I am so very proud of our students!
Mrs. Julie Rolando
Life Skills Program Teacher
Central Intermediate School
For more information on Project Unify: https://www.soill.org/project-unify/