Special Olympics Unified Schools provides a framework, philosophy and set of practices that engage all students in activities that improve achievement and lead to lifelong success. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools is proven to enhance school climate.
What is a Unified Champion School?
A Special Olympics Champion School has the following 3 Components:
Whole School Engagement
UHSAA Unified Sports – Offered in both soccer and track & field. Your school can participate in either or both of these sports. Athletes (with intellectual disabilities) and Unified Partners (without intellectual disabilities) train, practice, and compete together in a regular season of soccer or track. All schools then qualify to compete in the state championship and the opportunity to bring back the State Unified Championship trophy and honor to their school. Both sports are co-ed and occur in the spring.
Unified PE – PE classes that integrate students with and without intellectual disabilities participating in a meaningful way and training together. This gives them the opportunity to learn and practice together and unite through sports.
Unified Sports Recreation – These are inclusive recreational sports opportunities for Special Olympics athletes and partners without intellectual disabilities. This model promotes social inclusion and increases sport-specific skills and knowledge. However, the composition of Unified Sports Recreation teams is less structured thank Unified Sports and Unified Sports Player Development teams.
Club Unify – This club offers other social and recreational opportunities as well for members to spend additional time together. Student members need not be varsity or junior varsity athletes, but may have a particular career or sport interest. A Club Unify should be a sanctioned school club.
Best Buddies – These unified clubs foster one-to-one friendships between high school students with and without IDD. The program helps break through social barriers at an important time in a young person’s life and provide great opportunities for students to unite and build lasting friendships.
Other Clubs/Leadership – Does your school already have a unified club? Or do you have students with intellectual disabilities represented in your student council or leadership group? There are many ways to create unified leadership in your school and you may already have these opportunities available!
Whole School Activities
Spread the Word to End the Word – Spread the Word to End the Word is an on-going effort to raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard(ed)” and encourage people to pledge to stop using the R- word. The campaign is intended to get schools, communities and organizations to rally and pledge their support.
Fans in the Stands – No one likes playing or competing in front of empty bleachers! It’s easy to get Fans in the Stand started at your school – bring a group of friends, design big posters, gather at a local Special Olympics or Unified Sports® game or tournament, and cheer like crazy!
Cool Schools/Minutes that Matter – Get your school involved in our Polar Plunge or Minutes that matter fundraising events and help raise funds to support your school’s Unified Champion School programs!
Funding Opportunities for Schools
The Unified Champion Schools Program is a US national project, funded by the US Department of Education that is implemented within elementary, middle and high schools across the nation. Funding is available to schools participating in Utah based on the following funding model:
- Year 1: Schools will be able to receive funding for all activities within the three elements of a Unified Champion Schools program.
- Year 2: Schools will receive funding for all activities if they participate in all three elements as a Unified Champion School.
- Year 3: Unified Champion Schools will receive funding for all new activities (i.e. new Unified Sports team, new whole school activity).
- Year 4 and beyond: Unified Champion Schools can apply for funding up to $500 to help offset the costs of new activities and programs.