SHAPE America is the nation’s largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals. It drives excellence in physical education while providing “programs, resources, and advocacy to support health and physical educators at every level, from preschool to university graduate programs,” according to their organization statement.
For more than 50 years, SHAPE America and Special Olympics have joined forces to provide inclusive physical education (PE) programs nationwide through Unified PE, a piece of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® programming. In addition to physical activity, Unified Champion Schools strategically provides leadership and whole school engagement opportunities for students with (athletes) and without (Unified partners) intellectual disabilities.
Additional areas of collaboration include continuing education for SHAPE America members and Special Olympics stakeholders on inclusive practices and supporting the development of partnerships with Special Olympics Programs.
Amy Selvey, an active member of SHAPE America, uses the skills and resources received from SHAPE to help her coach Special Olympics Florida athletes. Over the past seven years, she has coached Unified flag football, softball, gymnastics, basketball, bowling, athletics, soccer, and cheerleading. Thanks to her connection to SHAPE America through her work as a physical education teacher for Cotee River Elementary, Selvey has the support she needs to help her athletes develop lifelong health and fitness habits.
“Special Olympics changed my perspective on life,” says Selvey. “I am so proud when I see the excitement in the athletes, Unified partners, and their families on the sidelines as they accomplish something they never could have imagined.”
Selvey will attend the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, bringing athletes to the USA Games for the first time in her coaching career. “It is an honor to be part of such a great event and in the state that I am proud to live in,” she says.
Selvey is just one example of the many SHAPE members and the impact they have on their communities. Moving forward, the partnership aims to increase awareness and understanding of SHAPE America and Special Olympics, to promote, support, and advance educational efforts for year-round physical activity, physical education, and health promotion for all, and lastly to increase the knowledge of SHAPE America members.
To learn more about the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, visit www.2022specialolympicsusagames.org.
For more information about Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools®, please visit GenerationUnified.org.