A proud partner of the Special Olympics since 1995, WWE is enhancing its Inclusion pillar’s goal to create a more inclusive and unified generation. WWE is helping to empower athletes of all ages and abilities to make great achievements and be recognized for their talents and accomplishments. Through this partnership, WWE is also helping to celebrate the differences in each of us and educate and expand the reach of Special Olympics, the organization’s powerful message of inclusion and remarkable athletes to a wider audience through WWE’s global platforms.
WWE has continuously supported its Community partners and their efforts during the COVID-19 global pandemic through ongoing, various social media and Talent initiatives. With sports leagues cancelling or postponing competitions and training sessions, it is more important, now more than ever, for all athletes, including those with intellectual disabilities, to keep their bodies fit and strong with a challenging, ongoing routine.
Looking to engage and motivate athletes around the world, WWE and Special Olympics launched School of Strength, an online fitness campaign. The School of Strength campaign was created in response to Special Olympics athletes’ requests for the development of more fitness resources that excite and inspire them to stay fit year-round.
With a commitment to spreading the message of acceptance and inclusion through its global platforms, WWE is proud to partner with Special Olympics to help further ignite this global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports every day around the world. This inspiring partnership encourages individuals to be the best that they can be while uniting and strengthening communities—a virtue WWE strongly believes in.
In March 2020, for the first time in its over 50-year history, Special Olympics created School of Strength, a fitness video series in partnership with WWE for Special Olympics athletes, led by Special Olympics athletes. On March 25, to help launch the new campaign, NBC’s TODAY Show announced and showcased School of Strength during #UpliftTODAY, a special segment designed to spread the power of positivity to viewers.
The School of Strength campaign features four free workout videos with varying levels of difficulty in flexibility, strength, balance and endurance exercises encouraging athletes to commit to a lifetime of positive fitness habits. The videos are accompanied by downloadable interactive toolkits for coaches and caregivers that feature recipes, a fitness tracker, games and health tips. The School of Strength fitness campaign targets Special Olympics athletes in their teens and late 20s and lives on SpecialOlympics.org.
This fun, engaging workout video series features WWE Superstar and Special Olympics Ambassador, Becky Lynch, in the ring alongside six Special Olympics athletes and trains them in a series of exercises to achieve varying levels of fitness, including Superstar Trainer, Champion Trainer and Master Trainer levels.
Special Olympics athletes selected to participate in this campaign and lead their fellow peers in exercise include: Angel Athenas (Special Olympics New York), Beth Donahue (Special Olympics Massachusetts), Stephanie Ching (Special Olympics Northern California), Vince Egan (Special Olympics Colorado), Gerarado De La Cerda (Special Olympics Southern California) and Greg Demer (Special Olympics Southern California).
Exercises demonstrated in the videos include warm-up exercises, such as arm circles and leg swings, endurance exercises including mountain climbers and jumping jacks, balance exercises including leg lifts and half-kneeling chops and strength exercises including power push-ups and super squats.
To further promote the School of Strength, Becky Lynch spoke exclusively with ESPN and Sports Illustrated to discuss how athletes can stay active through the series and the importance of empowering and supporting others.
To date, the campaign page on www.specialolympics.org has received over 100,000 page views. Also, 90+ media outlets around the world featured the campaign—directly reaching over 250 million people in the launch month alone. The campaign kicked off with a TODAY Show segment (on broadcast and online coverage) and across sports and general news media including hits in Sports Illustrated and ESPN. On social media, the campaign reached 13.6 million people, through 690 tweets coming from 520 contributors.
The interactive toolkits have been downloaded over 4,500 times and translated in multiple languages including Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Russian. Since this campaign was initially conceived to only target Special Olympics Programs in the United States, this has been a tremendous success!