In many ways, Alie Goldblatt ‘13 is a typical teenager, but what sets her apart is her passion for sharing kindness, acceptance and inclusivity through the Special Olympics Unified sports program
Introduced to Special Olympics as a fourth grader at Graland, Alie was hooked on working with the special needs community. Since Grade 7, she has played competitive soccer as a Unified Partner, sharing the field with other athletes with and without intellectual disabilities.
“At Graland I got great exposure to Unified sports,” she shares. “I knew that I wanted to continue working with buddies because I could see that I was making a difference.”
Unified Partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) like Alie train and compete alongside Special Olympics athletes. Throughout her years at Kent Denver, Alie played with the Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified Team and has kept in touch with and played with the same group of kids for six years.
“It’s great being involved with such a global organization that is inclusive of all abilities,” she says.
This past summer, Alie traveled with a Special Olympics Colorado athlete to Chicago and played as a Unified Partner in the Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match, East v. West, an event that coincided with Major League Soccer’s All Star Week. She speaks with great pride as she shows pictures of her teammates on and off the field.
“Everyone is out there to play a great game and to have fun. Win or lose, it’s about the experience more than the result,” Alie shares.
Currently, Alie takes her passion to another level as a youth representative on the Colorado Special Olympics Board of Directors. She is also working on a project to promote inclusivity in her own community: Unified Adventures combines hiking and adventuring in Colorado to promote a healthy lifestyle for those with intellectual disabilities.
This year, she was invited to present Unified Adventures at the 2017 Global Youth Leadership Summit hosted by the Special Olympics in Graz, Austria. She traveled with a partner athlete and shared the project with youth leaders from around the world. Their project was one of five selected from the US and they were joined by 42 other individuals from around the world who share the same vision of creating a Unified Generation.
“People come away with a better understanding or even a changed perspective on what individuals with intellectual disabilities can accomplish,” she explains. “They become more aware and more accepting, which helps to break down negative stereotypes.”
Now a high school graduate, Alie is enjoying a gap year before studying biology and neuroscience at the University of Chicago. She is also working as a student assistant at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome research lab under Dr. Huntington Potter.
“Alie often reflects on how important Graland was in the development of her world view and on her goal to establish a more unified and accepting generation,” says her mother, Sarah Goldblatt.