Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away.
Indiana Embracing Unified Sports
Young people with disabilities do not often get a chance to play on their school sports teams. More and more schools are adopting the Unified Sports approach that Special Olympics pioneered.
Unified Sports is an integral part of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, which was founded in 2008 and funded through the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education to use Special Olympics as a way to build inclusion and tolerance in schools. Unified Sports are now in more than 650 elementary, middle and high schools throughout Indiana. Also 25 Indiana colleges and universities have Collegiate Champion programs on campus, providing ongoing Unified and inclusionary activities for students and Special Olympics athletes.
Major Sports Organizations, Leagues and Events Support
Many sports organizations and events have also showcased Unified Sports as a vehicle to show the power of inclusive sports.
- Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA)
- National Basketball Association (NBA)
- Major League Soccer (MLS)
- National Collegiate Athletic Association, D-III
- ESPN’s X Games Aspen
- National Federation of High Schools (NFHS)
- National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA)