Who can become a Unified Champion School?
Any school can become a Unified Champion School! Public, private, charter, pre-k, elementary, middle school, high school, college or university, schools with or without special education programs—whatever the setting, if you’re interested in joining the Unified movement, we’ll work with you to make it happen.
What does my school have to do to become a Unified Champion School?
Unified Champion Schools implement the three components of Unified Schools into their setting and programming: Inclusive Student Leadership, Unified Sports and Whole School Engagement. All three of these crucial elements shift the culture of a school towards inclusion. Once they’re active, a school is considered a Unified Champion School. Special Olympics Arizona’s state office will support your efforts and make the movement easy and accessible, no matter who or where you are. Are you ready to join the Inclusion Revolution!
Special Olympics Unified Sports is an education and sports-based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities while creating communities of acceptance for all. At no cost to any athletes to join or participate, Unified Sports® is available for all ages, school-based community based and other day or private programs. The following are different options of how Unified Sports® is facilitated within
Inclusive Youth Leaders pave the path for their fellow students, recognizing that their peers with intellectual disabilities have the potential to be phenomenal leaders, just like their peers without intellectual disabilities. The following are different ways of how Inclusive Youth Leadership is facilitated within Unified Champion Schools®:
- Unified Clubs are inclusive school-based committees which are youth-led and athlete-driven. Unified Clubs focus on acceptance and inclusion through sports, social interaction, recreational opportunities, and supporting the incredible Unified Programs on campus!
- Unified Arts is a new program to Special Olympics Arizona! We see inclusion moving beyond just sports and Unified Arts will be hosting opportunities for people with and without intellectual disabilities to be engaged through art, music, dance, theatre, gardening, and even culinary arts!
- State Youth Activation Committee (State YAC) is a committee of Inclusive High School Leaders representing schools from across the state who directly support the Unified Champion Schools® initiatives both on and off-campus.
- Emerging Leaders with Special Olympics Arizona is an opportunity for college students and young adult professionals to come together and help promote social inclusion at their colleges and places of business through unique, individualized mentorships and learning opportunities.
- Any questions or to get involved, please contact Katie DeVenuto Katie@specialolympicsarizona.org
- Special Olympics Student Leadership Resources
- Special Olympics and National Student Council Resources
- Starting a Unified Club
Whole School Engagement is an important feature of creating a socially inclusive school climate is engaging the entire school community in the process. The following are just a few ways of how Whole School Engagement is achieved within Unified Champion Schools®:
- Spread the Word: Inclusion
- Minute that Matters: Minute that Matters is a one minute fundraiser for any school’s Special Olympics program on campus. During the designated one minute, classrooms will collect donations from students and teachers. 100% of the money raised during Minute that Matters will go directly fund Special Olympics activities in that school.
- Unified Arts
- Unified Fan Activation
Why Does SOAZ Ask You To Report?
The U.S. Department of Education and its Office of Special Education Programs grants money to Special Olympics North America each year to develop Unified Champion Schools. This grant money is then distributed to all Special Olympics state programs, including SOAZ. The amount of grant funding we receive each year varies and depends on our grant application objectives and goals for the school year, as well as our work done in the previous year. SOAZ must report twice a year on our progress in achieving the goals and objectives outlined in our grant application. It holds us accountable and also allows the U.S. Department of Education to see all the good happening in our state!
We appreciate you taking a few minutes of your day to fill out the mid-term and end-of-year reports.
Please reach out our UCS staff for any questions.
Shae Knowlton, Unified Champion Schools Senior Coordinator, Shae@SpecialOlympicsArizona.org
Katie DeVenuto, AIA Unified Sports Coordinator, Katie@SpecialOlympicsArizona.org
Stay connected to the Unified movement even while distanced learning. Our Virtual Unified Classroom gives students the ability to stay connected from home. Whether you are participating in distanced learning or are in a classroom setting, these fun and engaging activities can be used by your Unified group.
HOW IT WORKS: Our team will host an activity that’s specifically reserved for your Unified group. All you have to do is invite your students and show up! You choose the time and date that works best for you. We suggest scheduling activities at least two weeks in advance for the best student engagement. These activities will be available all semester for your Unified group. We encourage you to take advantage of these free and fun programs on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.
Click the application link below to get started!
Our Special Olympics Arizona Young Athletes Sponsor
Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing, and offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children. Family involvement in the lives of young children is important. Parents, grandparents, caretakers, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins should have every opportunity to be involved in Young Athletes. Through Special Olympics Young Athletes in the home, families can play together in a fun and caring environment.
HOW IT WORKS:
Young Athletes is activity rich and designed to easily be conducted in the home, at school, or as part of a community program, with resources to span at least 8 weeks. When implemented in more than one setting, the young athlete sees greater benefit, as skill development is reinforced through repetition. Children learn how to play with others and develop important skills for learning.
Children also learn to share, take turns and follow directions. These skills help children in family, community and school activities. Young Athletes is a fun way for children to get fit.
It is important to teach children healthy habits while they are young. This can set the stage for a life of physical activity, friendships and learning. Young Athletes is easy to do and fun for all.
It can be done at home (led by parents), in schools (led by teachers) or in the community (led by coaches and volunteers) using the Young Athletes Activity Guide and basic equipment. Through Young Athletes, all children, their families and people in the community can be a part of an inclusive team.
CONNECT WITH US: Are you interested in receiving additional resources as they become available? Would you like to get Young Athletes going in your community or school? Or maybe join an existing program?
Contact the Unified Champion Schools Sr. Coordinator to start your Young Athletes journey today!
Young Athletes At Home
Young Athletes Activity Guide: ENGLISH
Young Athletes Activity Guide: SPANISH
Resources for Families:
Young Athletes in Homes (PDF): One-page PDF to support coaches training and implementing Young Athletes in homes
Young Athletes Family Flashcards (PDF): Fun and engaging flashcards for families to use at home to run Young Athletes activities.
Resources for School and Community Programs:
Young Athletes in Unified Champion Schools (PDF): Overview of using the YA Activity Guide in Unified Champions Schools for US Programs
Young Athletes in Schools (PDF): One-page PDF to support coaches training and implementing Young Athletes in schools.
Young Athletes in Communities (PDF): One-page PDF to support coaches training and implementing Young Athletes in communities
Young Athletes Educator Flashcards (PDF): Flashcards for teachers to use in the classroom to support Young Athletes activities in building social emotional learning (SEL) skills.
Special Olympics Elementary School Playbook (PDF)
Special Olympics Arizona has been partnering with the Arizona Interscholastic Association since 2011 to provide Unified Sports through a competitive interscholastic model. Through AIA Unified Sports, athletes and partners are able to:
- Represent their school community with pride by wearing school name/colors and competing in a legitimate arena alongside their peers
- Participate in regular-season and post-season interscholastic league play against other high school Unified Sports teams
- Qualify for advancement to AIA state-level tournaments to compete for state championship titles
- Be eligible to receive JV and Varsity letters for participation in high school athletics and activities
- Build confidence through success and positive interactions with peers
- Experience being part of a team through engagement in an inclusive environment that promotes camaraderie, competition, sportsmanship, and lifelong friendships
- Achieve excellence and recognition in interscholastic athletics and activities
- Promote academic and social support in the classroom, hallways, and overall school environment and community
Katie DeVenuto, MS
AIA Unified Sports Coordinator
Unified Physical Education provides a unique opportunity for students with and without disabilities to come together through ongoing educational and physical activities. The Unified Physical Education course is structured around the national physical education standards and grade-level outcomes, which include gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain a health-enhancing level of fitness. Additionally, the class supports the development of leadership skills for all students, and the empowerment of ALL students to foster an inclusive class and school-wide environment. Unified Physical Education courses can be a gateway for further participation in Special Olympics programs and events.
- For more information, contact Shae Knowlton, Shae@SpecialOlympicsArizona.org.
*SOAZ will be launching our very own Unified Sports PE Curriculum coming soon!