Tanner had a reputation at Fife High School in Washington. His motivation was low and his behavior at school reflected that. This is all until he got involved with the Unified programming at Fife. Being involved in Unified Sports was different than what Tanner expected it to be. He found love and acceptance through his new friends both with and without intellectual disabilities. With this new positive outlook, he improved his grades and ended up receiving a scholarship to college.
Special Olympics Unified Sports is one of three components that make up a Special Olympics Unified Champion School. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® is a program for schools Pre-K through university that intentionally promotes meaningful social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities to create accepting school environments, utilizing three interconnected components: Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement.
This year, Fife High School was named one of ESPN’s Top 5 Unified Champion Schools. In a celebration emceed by famed coach PJ Carlesimo with an appearance by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, it was a great chance for the nation to see why Fife was so deserving of this award after meeting the ten standards of excellence required to become a Unified Champion School with National Banner Recognition. It also represents how Unified can impact all members of the school community, even students like Tanner .
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/