Youth Leadership Summit

More than 300 high school and middle school students from across Connecticut attended the Special Olympics Unified Sports Youth Leadership Summit on Jan. 8 at Wesleyan University.

The Summit is run by students from across the state along with representatives from Special Olympics Connecticut and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC).

At the Summit, students shared their experiences, ideas and practices to help the Unified Sports program continue to grow.

A.J. Pollock, who grew up in Connecticut and now plays baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks, was the keynote speaker. He talked about his personal experience as a Unified Partner and the friendship he had with Special Olympics athlete Tyler Cormier.

NBC Connecticut Sports Anchor Kevin Nathan also was a speaker at the event.

The Special Olympics Connecticut Unified Sports Program brings athletes with and without intellectual disabilities together to play sports, gain physical fitness, develop friendships and demonstrate appreciation and respect for each other both on and off the playing field.

Unified Sports is currently offered in over 170 schools across the state through Special Olympics’ partnership with the Connecticut Association of Schools and Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CAS/CIAC).

The Unified Sports experience teaches good sportsmanship and good citizenship to elementary-, middle- and high-school students.

Additionally, Unified Sports is offered as a community-based program for participants of all ages, where it employs sports to change people’s misconceptions about individuals with intellectual disabilities and ensure those with disabilities have the same opportunities afforded to all other members of society.

Year-round sponsors of the Special Olympics Connecticut-CAS/CIAC Unified Sports(r) Program include Team ESPN, Bob’s Stores, Campus Customs, Hoffman Auto Group and ConnectiCare.

To find out more about Unified Sports, go to or, or call 203-250-1111.