In the last year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been overwhelming hardship and frustration felt by all. But during this time, there have also been beautiful opportunities to witness strength and fortitude. This has been abundantly clear in the resilience of educators and their students across the United States.
The achievements of schools, educators, and students should always be celebrated, but it is more important than ever to support the education community and find joy along the way. Because of this, it was particularly meaningful that Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® and our partners at Hasbro Inc. were able to commit to another year of recognizing schools that celebrate inclusion every day.
Hasbro, a global play and entertainment company, has partnered with Special Olympics since 2016 to promote inclusion in schools across the world. Hasbro directly supports the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools national school recognition program by honoring a few schools each year with special celebrations. National Banner Schools are those that have met the ten standards of excellence for inclusion, as outlined by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community. Each school’s application is reviewed by their Special Olympics Program, as well as a National Certifying Body of key leaders in the educational community.
Despite the challenges of the 2020 – 2021 school year, Hasbro and Unified Champion Schools were determined to celebrate those institutions of learning that make inclusion a priority for students of all abilities. To keep all attendees’ safety and health in mind, virtual banner celebrations were conducted to honor four amazing national banner schools. In addition to a virtual event, Hasbro donated a toy or game to every single student at these schools.
Watch the video below to see how Hasbro and Unified Champion Schools highlighted the inclusive work at Bunker Hill Elementary School (Washington, D.C.), Westminster High School (California), White County Middle School (Georgia), and Williams Memorial Elementary School (South Carolina).
Hasbro and Special Olympics honored the following schools during the 2020-2021 school year: Bunker Hill Elementary School (Washington, D.C.), Westminster High School (California), White County Middle School (Georgia), and Williams Memorial Elementary School (South Carolina).
Now that the 2021 – 2022 school year is underway, Hasbro and Unified Champion Schools are already looking toward the celebrations of the most recent class of national banner schools. In this recognition cycle, 68 schools overcame the challenges of distance learning, virtual club meetings, and postponed sports to achieve recognition for their work in inclusion. Of these 68, Hasbro and Unified Champion Schools are planning to celebrate just a handful on the national scale—stay tuned for the official announcement of these schools later this fall.