Special Olympics has been with us for a long me. This program has been invaluable to our na on and to the world providing athletic opportunities for people of all ages who have physical and/or mental disabilities. Anyone who has a child with special needs or has been involved in the Special Olympics movement will tell you it is one of the most meaningful, worthwhile and unforgettable experiences they will ever have. As Special Olympics has grown and evolved over the years, another way of offering athletic opportunities, specifically for high school students with intellectual disabilities, is here. The concept is called Unified Sports and it joins students with intellectual disabilities and students without intellectual disabilities on the SAME TEAM. Unified Sports builds a culture of inclusion on a high school campus and brings students, faculty, parents and communities together as another example of a classroom outside the buildings.
If you have Unified Sports at your school today, thank you very much and I hope you will continue to support and develop your program in the me ahead. If you do not have Unified Sports yet, it is me to get started! This is how it works…
- You need to match students receiving services in your Special Education Department with students en- rolled in the regular program at your school.
- You need to select a coach. (The NFHS offers a free online course called “Coaching Unified Sports” at www.n slearn.com.)
- Identify the sport(s) you wish to field Unified Teams. (Basketball, Soccer and Track and Field are good starters, in terms of sports to offer as you begin your journey.)
Once you have done those things, you can choose the format you wish to utilize…
- Participate as a team in the Recreation Model – Practice and scrimmage during PE class, club meeting me, lunch me or a er school. Have a pickup game during a club meeting me, lunch me or a er school.
- Participate as a team in the Development Model – Practice and scrimmage during PE class, club meeting me, lunch me or a er school. Play in a culminating event (game) against other teams at your school. Invite neighboring participating schools to a scrimmage day. Develop a league and play against other teams in the same school district and/or area.
- Participate as a team in the Competitive Model – Practice and scrimmage during a club meeting me, lunch me or a er school. Develop league and championship play against other schools within the same school district and/or area.
If you need more information and access to additional resources, be sure to contact Special Olympics Southern California through their website, www.sosc.org.
I hope you will commit to Unified Sports as part of the total educational experience at your school in the continuing effort to make a difference in the lives of the young people we are so fortunate to serve.
Thank you very much for your help and support, it is truly appreciated.