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Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® builds on Special Olympics’ values, principles, practices, experiences and impacts to shape a generation that welcomes everyone.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® builds on Special Olympics’ values, principles, practices, experiences and impacts to shape a generation that welcomes everyone.

Training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. Special Olympics New York and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) share the philosophy that authentic and credible athletics have the greatest impact on the student athlete and serve the greater purpose of destroying stigma and stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities.

That's why NYSPHSAA recognizes Unified Sports. Every player is given an opportunity to contribute to the success of the team through their unique skills and qualities, with minimal rule modifications to ensure integrity and a true interscholastic sports experience.

More than 1.2 million people worldwide take part in Special Olympics Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities. ESPN is the program’s Global Presenting Sponsor, supporting its growth and message of inclusion worldwide.

Young people of all abilities have the opportunity to become leaders in their schools and communities. They find their voices and learn to become change agents by promoting equity and acceptance. Activities within the classroom, school and community are designed and implemented by a diverse group of students to foster social inclusion.

Ensuring that various leadership roles are available to all students, accommodating a range of skillsets, abilities and perspectives, greatly enhances efforts to create and sustain change within the school and community.

These activities positively create an inclusive school climate among students, teachers, staff and administrators, fostering understanding and respect for all. A school-wide focus on social inclusion raises awareness and creates an educational environment where respect and acceptance are the norm and all students feel included and engaged.

Spread the Word to End the Word/Respect Campaigns
Spread the Word to End the Word (STWTETW)/Respect Campaigns ask the school to pledge to stop using the R-word [retard(ed)] and to promote more respectful attitudes and actions. Many schools choose to host large STWTETW campaigns on the first Wednesday in March. Others host smaller ongoi 4 Titleng campaigns. Campaign materials and supplies are available upon request.

Fans in the Stands
No one likes competing in front of empty bleachers. The Fans in the Stands campaign helps students organize groups to promote and attend Unified Sports games using flyers and posters, morning announcements, social media and much more.

Cool School Challenge
Students help raise funds to benefit Special Olympics programs in their local communities. Our team looks forward to working with young people to create these fun and impactful campaigns.

Fit 5
Student leaders can use the Special Olympics Fit 5 program to help not only athletes, but their whole school community, develop a plan to improve physical activity, nutrition and hydration. Unified sports teams can share their progress on social media, start inclusive fitness classes, organize health challenges or promote wellness throughout the school.

The Unified Sports movement is inspiring millions worldwide to accept and include people with intellectual differences. As New York seeks to lead this revolution, we are actively recruiting Corporate Champions to help us grow, ensuring a Unified opportunity for every family and continuing to create inclusive school communities across New York.

Unified Bocce Experience

Ready to join the Inclusion Revolution? Gather 10 of your friends and co-workers for an afternoon with President/CEO Stacey Hengsterman and Special Olympics athletes. Our “Bocce Bash” includes a competitive Unified Bocce tournament, a light lunch, great swag and forever friendships. You provide the location and we’ll take care of the rest. Learn more here.