Custer helps create space designed for a first-of-its-kind inclusion center for Special Olympics Michigan

Place of Pride

Special Olympics Michigan partnered with Steelcase and Custer to create spaces designed for a first-of-its-kind inclusion center.


“The point of this building is to highlight ability,” says Jen VanSkiver, chief officer of strategic growth for Special Olympics Michigan (SOMI), which provides year-round sports training for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. She’s also a mom to Special Olympics athlete, Claudia. Jen is leading a team that’s turning a former high school, piece-by-piece, into the largest Special Olympics training and sports center in the world. SOMI Unified Sports & Inclusion Center is the first of its kind for Special Olympics, using a collaborative model to bring together nine nonprofits dedicated to disability inclusion.

“Every tenant has their own space. But the collaborative magic will happen in the common areas when we bump into each other while using meeting, breakout and cafe spaces. We’re creating a centralized place where people with intellectual challenges can access all the resources they need to work, learn, play and grow their contributions to the community,” says Jen. Steelcase worked with SOMI, architectural firm Mathison & Mathison, Steelcase dealer Custer and SOMI’s other partner organizations to innovatively design those community spaces.


“When we approached this project, we wanted to engage as many people as possible who will use the center’s shared spaces. We didn’t want to just design for this community. We needed to design with them,” says Kamara Sudberry, Steelcase inclusive design leader.

“We’ve embraced inclusive design as a process. Inclusivity is the outcome.”

– KAMARA SUDBERRY Steelcase Inclusive Design Leader

Read the full Steelcase article here 

Photos courtesy of Steelcase