New connection emerges between Special Olympics Missouri and UM System

The Special Olympics Missouri joined forces with MU, MU Health Care and the UM System to give opportunities for faculty, staff and students of the universities to engage with the athletes of the program.

Special Olympics Missouri announced a new partnership between MU, MU Health Care and the UM System on Nov. 6. Special Olympics ensures every athlete is included, and this partnership aims to give more people an inside view of what Special Olympics is trying to build by being inclusive.

Recently, Special Olympics Missouri announced its State Summer Games will be taking place in Columbia in 2020. The games were held in Springfield the past three years.

The UM System universities already have a strong tie to Special Olympics. According to the MU News Website, this is the sixth consecutive semester that the MU School of Journalism’s Novak Leadership Institute has been involved with the Special Olympics Missouri.

The UM System collaboration was necessary to reach a statewide audience to gain support for the Special Olympics Missouri because athletes are spread throughout the state of Missouri. The fact that the UM System has campuses in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis may present a larger opportunity to gain support and participation statewide.

This partnership also hopes to get volunteers and promote events for Special Olympics Missouri. Additionally, this partnership will help the athletes get recognized in addition to providing them with more opportunities.

“It was important for [Special Olympics Missouri] to find a partner that had that presence throughout the state,” Kayla Hull, Special Olympics Missouri digital media coordinator, said. Everything that the UM System stands for seemed like a great fit for us to partner with.”

This partnership hopes to spread the mission of Special Olympics Missouri to the general public, bring on bigger events and encourage more involvement from the Health & Wellness and Special Olympics Health programs. Those programs specifically tie into partnering with MU Health Care, and hope to grow the health programs with the new partnership.

Hull is most excited about the growth potential this partnership offers. She agrees that both the UM System and Special Olympics Missouri will benefit in many ways because of this partnership.

“They’re all excited for this partnership and are very on board with it,” Hull said. “It has gotten all of the athletes and all of us staff to see how far we can take this again with getting more people involved in Special Olympics Missouri and trying to get our mission out there more.”

MU student organizations have raised money for Special Olympics Missouri over the years. Employees and students have served as coaches for Special Olympics Missouri as well.

Liz McCune, associate director of the MU News Bureau, also believes this will benefit both Special Olympics Missouri and the UM System in many ways.

“It will give our faculty, staff and students more opportunities to interact with a fantastic organization and be athletes to participate in Special Olympics,” McCune said. “We hope it will benefit Special Olympics by us lending our support in a variety of ways.”

McCune also agreed this partnership shows the true values of the UM System’s universities.

“I think this partnership embraces the values of the universities, particularly when it comes to inclusion and recognizing the value of all people, including those with intellectual disabilities,” McCune said.

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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