A Catalyst for Change

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® program is a strategy/initiative for schools pre-K through university that promotes 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.

The Unified Champion Schools® program promotes school climates that:

  • are free from bullying and exclusion,
  • combat stereotypes and negative attitudes,
  • eliminate hurtful language,
  • promote healthy activity and interactions, and
  • are welcoming and value 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.

Register your school!

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,

Funding Request: Special Olympics Washington understands that each school is a different place when it comes to financial sustainability. Funds are available for schools to help implement or expand current or new Unified Schools programs. Please include any funding requests in your Commitment to Inclusion Form.

Want to Learn More? Fill out the Unified Champion Schools Interest form to talk with our Special Olympics Washington Unified Schools staff members.

Inclusive Sports

Unified Sports
Young Athletes
Play Unified
Unified Physical Education

Whole School Engagement

Get Into It Active
Spread the Word to End the Word
Cool Schools Polar Plunge Team
Movies that Move
“It’s Our School Too” Play

Inclusive Youth Leadership

Inclusive Youth Leadership
YAC Peer Recommendation Form
YAC Adult Recommendation Form

Unified Champion Schools Training

Unified Champion Schools Webinar Series


Unified Champion Schools Brochure
Event Funding Request
Unified Leadership Team
Middle School Playbook
High School Playbook
Unified Champion Schools Tracks
Unified Overview