Created by college students for college students, SO College connects higher education students and individuals with intellectual disabilities in their school or surrounding community. Through sports and leadership opportunities, students build friendships, develop leadership skills and help lead Special Olympics’ movement for acceptance and respect. SO College activates young leaders in three areas that mirror Project UNIFY’s core components: inclusive sports, youth leadership and advocacy, and whole school engagement. All three of these components are vital to enhancing the SO College experience for all students. Below you will find a detailed explanation of how each component can be executed at the college level.

Inclusive Sports: Students can create inclusive sports teams that unite students and Special Olympics Athletes to participate together in scrimmage-type sporting events. Through three different Unified Sports models, there is a meaningful role for all individuals to play side by side. Students can also participate in local or state-level Special Olympics Games by coaching, competing on a Unified Sports team, helping to promote the event, or all of the above.

Youth Leadership & Advocacy: Functioning as a student-led Fans Club, SO College can meet regularly to plan events and generate ideas for promoting the mission of Special Olympics and SO College. This type of club works best when students invite Special Olympics Athletes to become members. Students can also build their leadership skills by becoming a part of the Games Organizing Committee for their local or state Special Olympics and assisting in the planning and execution of events.

Campus Involvement: Students can bring campus communities together through awareness campaigns such as the pledge-signing drive Spread the Word to End the Word®, recruiting students to join a Polar Plunge team, rallying students to come be Fans in the Stands, hosting a Run with the Cops in partnership with LETR, or other awareness events that can engage the whole student body, faculty, administrators and college staff.

Current Chapters:

  • Marquette University
  • Mount Mary University
  • UW-Madison
  • UW-Whitewater

Next Steps:

SO College Highlights from 2015-2016

UW Madison vs Marquette University Unified Basketball Rivalry game

A Unified Sports Rivalry game is a Special Olympics Unified Sports game where each team represents one of the NCAA rival teams (i.e. Madison vs. Marquette). The teams are comprised of students from the perspective universities and local Special Olympics athletes. This event is designed to build a strong relationship not only between the students and Special Olympics athletes, but also the broader community.

UW Madison competes in Unified Division at Ohio St. NIRSA Basketball Championships

Traveling teams take Unified Sports to the next level by creating memorable team bonding experiences between athletes and partners.  5 Special Olympics Athletes and 3 UW Madison students combined to form a unified basketball team that traveled to Ohio State University to compete in a Special Olympics Unified Division of the NIRSA Basketball Championships.

UW Oshkosh Unity Basketball Game

Unity Sports are a series of fun exhibition competitions that pair people with and without intellectual disabilities to compete alongside one another on the field of play. Inspired by Unified Sports, Unity sporting events provide a memorable opportunity for the athletes and partners to spotlight the importance of inclusion, sportsmanship, and friendship. The UW Oshkosh Titan Men’s Basketball Team split up and created equal teams comprised of Titans and SOWI athletes.

UW Whitewater Football Clinic

The Unified Sports Player Development model is utilized when teammates of higher ability are involved in assisting those of lower ability to improve their sport-specific skills and tactics. The UW Whitewater Football team held a special Warhawk Football Skills clinic for SOWI athletes.

Mount Mary University Masquerade Ball

The Mount Mary’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee hosted a fun filled night of costume and dancing.


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