Our Work

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools®


Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® builds on Special Olympics’ values, principles, practices, experiences and impacts to shape a generation that welcomes everyone.

Our Goal: Schools that Welcome All People

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.

This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement. The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners. What a Unified Champion School “looks like” can vary greatly from school to school, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each school; but the basic building blocks remain the same.

Together we are creating a Unified Generation that Chooses to Include. Join us.

Where We Are


The following list of organizations are integral collaborators to the movement of inclusive schools;

  • Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE)
  • ESPN
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) & National Student Council (NatStuCo)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
  • National Federation of State high School Associations (NFHS)
  • National Forum for Accelerating Middle-Grades Reform
  • National Head Start Association
  • NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation
  • PlayVS
  • SHAPE America

Youth Ambassadors

The Special Olympics U.S. Youth Ambassadors are a group of 23 youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities who are striving to make the nation a more inclusive place for all. These youth leaders act as advocates, share stories, and demonstrate the values of Inclusive Youth Leadership across the country. Through training, engagement, and activation at the national level, U.S. Youth Ambassadors are strong leaders of the Inclusion Revolution. Learn more about them.


Are you ready to take the next step and become a Unified Champion School? Contact us at usschools@specialolympics.org.

What Makes A Unified Champion School
Opportunities for youth with and without intellectual disabilities to become agents of change within their school, community, and state.
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An important feature of creating a socially inclusive school climate is engaging the entire school community in the process.
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Students develop exceptional athletic skills while forming friendships, fostering respect for each other, and becoming leaders on and off the court.
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Find a collection of tools to assist students, teachers, and State Programs in promoting Unified Schools in their communities.
Inclusion is on the playing field; in your school; starts with you. #UNIFIEDGENERATION
Schools demonstrate commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence to receive national banner recognition.