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Unified Leadership breaks down barriers for employing people of all abilities

The gifts and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are routinely underestimated and undervalued.

That’s why Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO), with the support of Alpine Bank, is committed to creating an inclusive world for people of all abilities, while continuously developing a deeper understanding of the barriers faced by people with ID. Part of their strategy to achieve this goal is through their groundbreaking Unified Leadership training and program.

What Is Unified Leadership? It’s a training that teaches leaders in the community to value, include and enable people with intellectual disabilities. This training encourages people to change their attitudes and behaviors to create meaningful inclusion in their communities and organizations for all people. The training can also help an organization further their diversity, equity and inclusion goals.

Unified Leadership teaches leaders of all abilities to value and learn from each other. Additionally, Unified Leadership inspires change to create environments where people with ID to succeed in meaningful jobs and roles.

One organization that has taken advantage of Unified Leadership training is United Airlines. It was a dream come true when Special Olympics Colorado athlete, Cody Field, was hired as a Service Ambassador for United Airlines at Denver International Airport.

“I got a call from Stephanie (Special Olympics Colorado’s Athlete Leadership and Family Services Manager) about a wonderful opportunity and it was the job shadow day at United,” said Cody.

During the job shadow, Cody and other Special Olympics Colorado athletes got to experience what it would be like to work for United. They learned about the different operating systems, how to get gate passes, and even learned about all of the items people are prohibited from bringing onto the plane.

Shortly after the job shadow, Cody received an email to apply for a Service Ambassador position and before he knew it, he was going in for an interview. After the interview, Cody was waiting with his fellow Special Olympics Colorado athletes, Hanna Atkinson, David Riley and Chris McElroy, when they heard the good news: They were offered positions at United!

“I was so excited, I couldn’t resist doing the undertaker’s victory bow like I do at State Games. I’m obsessed,” said Cody about his job at United. “I’m very happy that they reached out to me and the other athletes. I hope we hire more people with intellectual disabilities!”

Are you interested in getting your company involved with Special Olympics Colorado? Check out their Unified Leadership page and get started today.

About This Author


Alpine Bank Staff

Alpine Bank is an independent, employee-owned organization with headquarters in Glenwood Springs and banking offices across Colorado’s Western Slope, mountains and Front Range.

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