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
Unified Young Athletes -Special Olympics Young Athletes™ is a unique sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities to learn and play together. The focus is on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth. Children ages 2 to 7 enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
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 social and recreational opportunities as well for members to spend additional time together. 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.
“Get Into It” Curriculum – Consists of online resources that include lessons, activities, videos, athlete stories and supplemental materials. At the core of Get Into It are age-appropriate lessons designed to be taught in the context of class periods. Activities with ties to service learning are completed in a classroom or community setting, as part of a club, an after school activity or a community based event and include involvement with local Special Olympics Programs whenever possible.
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!