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Student-athletes from 30 Delaware high schools attend leadership conference

Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018 - More than 180 student-athletes and adult leaders from DIAA member high schools from across the state attended the Special Olympics Delaware/Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association Student-Leadership Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at the Del Tech Conference Center in Dover.

The annual conference is a collaborative effort between Special Olympics Delaware (SODE) and the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) to bring together school leaders and student-athletes in an environment of learning and sharing to develop ways to promote inclusion in their schools. 

“The opportunity to offer Unified sports as official DIAA sports continues to reinforce the movement that all students of all abilities in every school should be treated equally and given the same opportunities,” said Kylie Frazer, SODE director of youth and school engagement, who organized the conference along with DIAA executive director Tommie Neubauer.

The day kicked off with a presentation by Jean Beck, followed by her son Matthew welcoming and thanking those in attendance. Matthew has been involved in SODE since he was 8 years old and is a member of the Appoquinimink High School Unified sports teams.

“The opportunities that Unified sports have brought to Matthew during high school have profoundly enriched his high school experience,” Beck told the audience. “He has been accepted despite his uniqueness; he has been challenged to play better and harder; he has been celebrated for his determination and effort; and he has been embraced by peers who would have otherwise never noticed his existence.”

For the second consecutive year, Deb and Dana Hult of Core Trainings based in New England guided several of the sessions dealing with leadership. Additional sessions included information on Unified sports, fundraising, and ways to volunteer outside of the school setting. These were led by SODE staff members Gary Cimaglia, CarlyThompson  and Corinne Plummer.

Funding for the day was provided by Special Olympics Delaware and the Allstate Foundation.  “The Allstate Foundation is very proud to support this phenomenal effort involving DIAA and SODE and our Delaware student athletes,” said Caitlyn Barron, Allstate spokesperson. 

Representatives from Caesar Rodney High School (Nate Threatts and Skye Borris) and McKean High School (Holly Schnittger), two of SODE’s six 2017-18 “banner Unified Champion Schools programs,” shared with attendees about how their schools implement the Unified Champion Schools program at their respective schools.

In 2013, SODE and the DIAA began its partnership by piloting Unified Track & Field. Since then, Flag Football became an official sport in 2016 and this winter marks the addition of basketball as an official sport. All three sports follow the same basic rules and guidelines as the other DIAA high school sports.


For more information, Contact Jon Buzby; 302-740-1033