Building upon Special Olympics’ values, principles, practices, experiences, and impacts, the Unified Champion Schools® (UCS) program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. Our goal is to engage students of all ages and abilities and to help shape a Unified Generation that Chooses to Include.

With sports as the foundation, the UCS 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.

This is accomplished by implementing the program’s four pillars: inclusive youth leadership opportunities, Unified Sports®, whole school engagement, and collaborative fundraising. 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 students, teachers, and administrators.

Champions at Every Level

As a global leader in the implementation of UCS programming, Special Olympics Indiana works with partners including the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), the Indiana Middle Level Education Association (IMLEA), and the Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education (ICASE) to reach more than 260,000 students in over 650 Indiana schools each year.

Participating schools are challenged to engage their entire school community in inclusive activities and to achieve certain goals related to each of the four pillars of the UCS program. Schools that meet or exceed each of these milestones in a given school year are awarded a recognition banner, while those that go above and beyond may be eligible for national recognition by Special Olympics North America.

Champions Together

Class of 2015

South Ripley High School

Class of 2016

South Ripley High School

Class of 2017

South Ripley High School

Class of 2018

South Ripley High School

Class of 2019

Lawrenceburg High School
South Dearborn High School
South Ripley High School

Class of 2020

South Ripley High School

Class of 2021

South Ripley High School

Class of 2022

Champions Together is a collaborative partnership between the Indiana High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics Indiana that promotes servant leadership among student athletes while changing their lives as well as the lives of those with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics International is supporting Champions Together as a model program to activate schools through “Project Unify: which also has the endorsement of the National Federation of High Schools.

Program Goals

1. Provide opportunities for student led servent leadership as part of the IHSAA experience

2. Create awareness and opportunities for inclusion as it relates to all individuals with intellectual disabilities

3. Unified Sports

4. Promote fundraising for the purpose of promoting the vision and programs of Special Olympics Indiana and Champions Together

Want to know more about the IHSAA Champions Together program and the ways your high school can get involved? Contact Greg Townsend at [email protected] for more information.

South Ripley High School 2019 National Unified Champion School

South Dearborn High School 2019

South Ripley High School Unified State Bowling Champs 2019

South Ripley High School 2019

Champions Together in the Middle

Class of 2019

South Ripley Junior High School

Class of 2020

South Ripley Junior High School

Class of 2021

South Ripley Junior High School

Class of 2022

Champions Together in the Middle is a partnership between Special Olympics Indiana and the IMLEA that facilitates participation in UCS programming by middle and intermediate schools throughout Indiana. Schools that have distinguished themselves through inclusive activities and by meeting or exceeding all of the following criteria are recognized annually with a Unified Champion Schools banner:

  • All school-sponsored UCS activities must be planned, organized and administered by an “Inclusive Student Leadership Team” that strives to do things WITH students with intellectual disabilities, NOT FOR them.

  • The school must participate in at least one activity designed around “Whole School Engagement” and/or a school-wide fundraiser for Special Olympics Indiana that promotes and encourages awareness, respect, and inclusion of persons with intellectual disabilities.

  • The school must organize and participate in at least one Unified Sports® activity, such as a Unified Track and Field meet, a Unified Fitness Club, a Unified Physical Education class, or

    a Unified competition involving students and/or local Special Olympics athletes.

  • The school must fundraise a minimum of $750 for Special Olympics Indiana to assist in sustaining and expanding UCS activities.

Want to know more about Champions Together in the Middle program and the ways your school can get involved? Contact Greg Townsend at [email protected]a-rod.org for more information.

South Ripley Jr High School 2021