WASHINGTON, DC: The Special Olympics hired Topics Education, a Charlotte, NC-based education outreach firm, to further develop and promote its decade old, “Get Into It” curriculum for K-12 students. The agency is tasked with promoting the curriculum, which aims to foster inclusion of and understanding for people with intellectual disabilities, through social media and teacher and student outreach. The organization hopes to officially push and launch and the revised program in July 2010, during the Special Olympics event in Nebraska.
“We didn't really do active marketing,” said Andrea Cahn, director of Special Olympics Project Unify, the organization's national youth engagement program which is largely funded by the US Department of Education and overseeing the curriculum initiative. “We put the material out there for our state programs to use, but it wasn't necessarily a universal state strategy.”
She added, “We want to model what we're promoting, that young people of all abilities can work together in the same classroom to create a more respectful environment.”
The announcement follows a competitive RFP review involving four undisclosed firms specializing in student and service learning curriculum, explained Cahn.
“We knew and decided that having an organization like Topics, which has all the credentials but is not necessarily a large firm, would mean we'd get more customized service and interaction and maybe have a more collaborative process,” said Cahn.
In phase one of two, leading up to the games, the agency is working on developing the new curriculum and a strategy to engage the maximum number of teachers and help solidify relationships with the education community and national partners such as Disney, explained Bruce Nofsinger, principal and cofounder of Topics Education Group.
In phase two, he said the agency expects to focus on promoting the program via social media platforms in the new context of educational outreach, as well as create resources primarily for students that are more multimedia and interactive.
“The Special Olympics recognized that the curriculum wasn't having the kind of impact they had hoped it would have,” he said. “The classroom has changed in last 10 years with the whole advent of social media.”