Washington, D.C. – US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel announced the launch of Special Olympics’ Project UNIFY ® in China to support exchanges in Special Olympics programming between US and Chinese schools and universities. Stengel made the announcement on 10 July at the 5th Round of the US− China High Level Consultation on People to People Exchange (CPE) in Beijing, with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong in attendance.
Special Olympics Project UNIFY® is an education and sports based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics East Asia Regional President and Managing Director Mary Gu and Special Olympics Hong Kong athlete Sam Tam, who addressed the audience in Chinese and English, attended the meetings. Representatives from the US National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball also participated.
US First Lady Michelle Obama sent a letter of greeting to those attending the CPE that singled out Special Olympics, as well as the US Olympic Committee and the US Paralympic Committee, for continuing “to forge relationships with their Chinese counterparts to promote access to every level of sport for all people.”
Ms. Gu explained that in 2015, the US and China will establish a youth exchange though Project UNIFY® that will involve one Chinese high school and one Chinese university with two US schools. Special Olympics Project UNIFY® is an education and sports based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities, while creating communities of acceptance for all.
Special Olympics Board Chairman Tim Shriver said “That Project UNIFY is one of the deliverables announced at the CPE demonstrates the important contribution that Special Olympics makes to expanding and strengthening relationships and understanding between the people and government of the US and citizens of the rest of the world.”
Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics said “Special Olympics has a unique power to bring people together regardless of their differences. So we are delighted to use this power to enrich public diplomacy and people-to-people exchanges between two nations that between them are home to almost two million Special Olympics athletes.”
Stengel leads America's public diplomacy outreach, which includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs, and US Government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism.