Special Olympics Illinois (SOILL) opened a Chicago headquarters in the West Loop as part of its expansion and new programming to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities have opportunities for growth.
The non-profit’s Chicago office brings SOILL closer to a growing constituency in the. Roughly 53,000 people in Chicago live with intellectual disabilities. Currently, SOILL serves about 6,000 athletes, ages eight and older, of all ethnicities.
“We are moving into the West Loop to expand our work in Chicago,” said David Breen, president. “We want Chicagoans to know Special Olympics is much more than a track meet. We are a leader in health services for people with intellectual disabilities, and we enhance life skills to build confidence.
“And with our key partners, many of whom are in the city, we can work together to bridge inclusion hurdles, so our athletes have equal opportunities to prosper as contributing adults,” Breen added.
Special Olympics offers unified school programming at 19 Chicago Public Schools. Unified Champion Schools (UCS) is an all ages, education-based program supported through the Federal Department of Education. At UCS, students with and without intellectual disabilities work together to develop skills and opportunities to build change and help their schools develop cultures of inclusiveness.
Recently, SOILL hosted a professional development seminar for schools that have implemented UCS programming and those interested in learning more. It was the first of several informational meetings SOILL plans for the year. Significant expansion plans throughout CPS are on tap for 2020, adding to the growing list of more than 280 UCS schools throughout Illinois.
Ahead of the move into Chicago, SOILL hired an outreach director to work with CPS to enlarge programming for students with intellectual disabilities and a government relations specialist to create more development and partnership opportunities for the Chicago region.
The West Loop office will provide SOILL additional opportunities to help corporate sponsors work on solutions for workplace diversity and inclusion. “Inclusion creates career opportunities for our athletes, and we are at a time when companies are looking to us for help on implementing their goals for a more inclusive workforce,” Breen said.
“Furthermore, given the area’s continued business and residential growth, our new office will help us better connect with the city’s young professionals looking to spend time with our inspiring athletes and growing our mission,” he added.
Located at 820 W. Jackson Blvd., the Chicago office will complement Special Olympics Illinois’s existing state headquarters in Normal, IL.
Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education, and leadership programs around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities.
For information, contact Chris Winston at firstname.lastname@example.org at Special Olympics Illinois or log on to www.soill.org.