Special Olympics Unified Schools empowers youth and educators to be leaders of change. By playing and learning we will create a more inclusive world.

Special Olympics views students as powerful and effective advocates…open-minded to new things and as having the courage of conviction to step up and defend their beliefs. For this reason, we feel that young people are some of the most powerful and effective advocates on behalf of acceptance.

“Through sport, recreation, and youth leadership, my students have grown immensely as young advocates and I am confident the future is brighter because they have chosen to Live Unified.” –Jahlieh Gardipee, SOWI volunteer and Special Education teacher at Columbus High School

The Unified Champion Schools® Program is creating a Unified Generation who are leading the charge to re-imagine and create communities in which all people are included and accepted.

(Already a Unified Champion School? Tell us your UCS Success Story!)

OUR GOAL: Schools that Welcome All People

Unified Champion Schools are aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.

3 Components of a Unified Champion School: 

  1. Inclusive sports
  2. Inclusive youth leadership opportunities
  3. Whole school engagement

The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners.

What a Unified Champion School “looks like” can vary greatly from school to school, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each school; but the basic building blocks remain the same.

Together we are creating a Unified Generation that Chooses to Include.

PROOF POSITIVE: Respect. Diversity. Civic Learning. Connectedness. Engagement.

Preliminary research suggests that Unified Champion Schools® have more RESPECT for DIVERSITY, better SOCIAL and CIVIC LEARNING, and stronger school CONNECTEDNESS and ENGAGEMENT.

  • 97% of high school seniors say that Unified Champion Schools®activities are changing their school for the better.
  • 96% of students without intellectual disabilities (ID) who participate would feel comfortable carrying on a conversation with a student with ID.
  • 95% of students said that their school should continue the Special Olympics Unified programming.
  • 87% of students learn that standing up for something they believe is the right thing to do.
  • 86% of students generally regard participation in the program as a positive turning point in their lives.
  • 84% of school staff feel that the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® program has made a big impact in reducing bullying and teasing in their schools.

JOIN US: Create a Unified Generation in your school today.

Students of all abilities have the power to positively impact their school communities by promoting social inclusion. Learn how you can make a difference.

Princess Brinkley
Director of Unified Programs
(608) 442-5663