A Catalyst for Change
The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program, formerly known as Project UNIFY®, is 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.
Unified Champion Schools promote a school climate that:
- is free from bullying and exclusion,
- combats stereotypes and negative attitudes,
- eliminates hurtful language,
- promotes healthy activity and interactions, and
- is welcoming and values the engagement of all students.
What is a Special Olympics Unified Champion School?
A sustaining Special Olympics Unified Champion School is a combination of three components:
- Whole School Awareness and Involvement: awareness and education activities that promote inclusion and reach the majority of the school population and all students in the school have opportunities to participate through sustained schoolwide activities.
Inclusive Youth Leadership: students with and without intellectual disabilities working together to lead and plan advocacy, awareness, and other Special Olympics and related inclusive activities throughout the school year.
- Inclusive Sports: a fully inclusive sports or fitness program that combines an approximately equal number of students with and without intellectual disabilities, such as Special Olympics Unified Sports, Interscholastic Unified Sports, Young Athletes, Unified PE or Unified Intramurals.
Creating a socially inclusive school is a process of building a school culture that encourages, supports and expects social inclusion at the heart of how the school functions. As the below graphic illustrates, each opportunity should incorporate a combination of the components, provide unique and engaging opportunities for students to participate, and enhance current social inclusion efforts.
Each year Special Olympics Washington requires new or returning schools to complete a Commitment to Inclusion form to register their school for the upcoming school year. This forms provide Special Olympics Washington with current contact information, what sports/activities your school wants to participate in and how staff can best support the school throughout the year,
2021-2022 Commitment to Inclusion Form *Coming Soon!*
Funding Request: Each school is in a different place when it comes to financial sustainability. SOWA does have funds that schools can receive to help implement or expand current or new Unified Schools programs. Each school must complete the Commitment to Inclusion Form, along with a Budget and Funding Request form to be eligible for funding.
2021-2022 Budget and Funding Request Form *Coming Soon!*
Want to Learn More? Fill out the Unified Champion Schools Interest form to talk with our Special Olympics Washington Unified Schools staff members.
Whole School Engagement:
Inclusive Youth Leadership
Unified Schools Training: