To bring Special Olympics programming into a school, it only takes one voice to get it started. Many times, that voice is a teacher. Whether introduced through Special Olympics Unified Sports® or a Unified club, the inclusive nature of Unified Champion Schools spreads throughout a school community where everyone from school administration to students without intellectual disabilities want to be involved.
“I always say, I thought eight years ago I had a great program. I thought my classroom was good, I thought my kids were thriving. But what’s happened since Unified Sports—it’s opened doors that we didn’t even know were closed for inclusion and every single day, every single year a new door opens and a new opportunity arises.”
According to annual research and evaluation of Unified Champion Schools across the country*, students who participate in Unified programming feel more supported, have higher levels of grit, and are more empathetic and compassionate—and this is in large part to the support they feel from their teachers. Today and every day, the Special Olympics movement continues to celebrate the passion that educators have to make a more inclusive world.
There are over 7,500 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® across the US with support from the US Office of Special Education Programs at the US Department of Education. These young people make up the Unified Generation. They are taking personal ownership within their schools and communities to ensure that everyone has the right to play, learn and live together through shared leadership opportunities of students with and without intellectual disabilities. To learn more about the Unified Generation, visit: https://www.generationunified.org/
*The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools Program: Year 10 Evaluation Report 2017 – 2018; Center for social Development and education, University of Massachusetts, Boston