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Unified Arts


Vision and Goals of Unified Arts

Special Olympics Arizona is a social change organization that utilizes sports and Unified programs as a catalyst for social change. Our vision is to expand the opportunities for social change by increasing access to the arts, building new audiences, and showcasing the many talents of our Special Olympics Athletes and Unified Partners through Unified Arts. The goal of Unified Arts is to empower people of all ages, with and without intellectual disabilities, to develop their creative and artistic skills while forming lifelong friendships with their local community. Unified Arts with Special Olympics Arizona is different from every other free art program in the state as it is housed both within school and in communities and is open to all ages, all abilities, and all levels of art knowledge!

Benefits of Unified Arts in Schools & Communities

Participation in Unified Arts empowers people of all ages and skill levels, with and without intellectual disabilities, to gain a true inclusive arts experience by providing opportunities to:

  • Promote social support in your community and experience positive interactions with peers
  • Build confidence through creative expressions and eligible for statewide and national recognition for art projects
  • Achieve excellence and recognition for acomplishments through inclusive art events
  • Cultivate a greater understanding of onesself and of others
  • Work collaboratively to build new friendships, improve self-esteem, and embrace positive changes in attitude, behavior, and performance.

Unified Arts in 2017-2018

Unified Arts was launched in 2017-2018 with initiatives under Unified Music, Unified Photography, Unified Gardening, and monthly Unified Art Contests. For more information, please continue reading below!

Unified Music

Through Unified Music, you can get engaged in a few different ways starting with the launch of our Unified Music Ukulele Curriculum. Thanks to our partnership with Korg Education, Tanglewood Guitars, Guitars in the Classroom, and the Country Music Association (CMA), your school or community delegation can receive Unified Music Ukulele Kits which includes a ukulele, colored strings, electronic tuner, gig bag, and an adaptive Ukulele Curriculum that incorporates learning for people of all abilities and all ages. The Unified Music Ukulele Curriculum allows for an easy, turn-key approach that empowers people with all levels of music knowledge to learn how to play the uke! In the 2017-2018 school year, Special Olympics Arizona already has over 100 participants statewide who are loving to learn how to play the ukulele and are eager to start showing off their musical abilities! Check out this awesome video showcasing the Unified Music Ukulele Curriculum.

Unified Music expands beyond ukuleles into marching bands and orchestras! United Sound in partnership with Special Olympics Arizona promote inclusion through a school-based instrumental music club for individuals with and without intellectual or developmental disabilities. Dedicated to promoting social involvement through shared ensemble performance experiences, United Sound & Special Olympics Arizona joins students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities to learn and perform in their school band or orchestra together! The program is run primarily by an individual school band or orchestra director and a school special education teacher with support from United Sound in the form of specialized training, financial support, and organizational resources. With assistance from peer mentors (Unified Partners), new musicians (Special Olympics Athletes) learn to play the instrument of their choice at a personally modified level. Learning first in lesson format and ultimately transitioning to rehearsals with recorded music, new musicians learn a piece of music that they will then perform live in concert, once per semester, with their peer mentor and a full instrumental support ensemble. Students who participate in the United Sound programs are learning to become musicians. Making music together is a powerful force for learning, growth, friendship, and understanding. Music is a language that transcends disability and the relationships formed in this way will truly resonate for all of those involved!

Unified Photography

Have you ever wanted to be the one taking all the action shots on the court? Thanks to Unified Photography, now you can be the one behind the camera and have the ability to share your point of view with the world! Unified Photography provides an opportunity for schools and community delegations to participate in Unified Arts at no cost! Whether you want to join in on instructor-led classes, get your film and media students on campus involved in Unified Arts Contests, or take photos on the court/field during competitions as part of the Special Olympics Arizona Media Team “Shot Callers”, your skills can be put to good use!

Through a partnership with Kanter Photography, classes will be held in Spring 2018 for you to gain education, knowledge, and hands-on experience with a camera and a photography professional, Josh Kanter. Each class has winning photographs selected (by you, of course) and these prints will be displayed at the first-ever Special Olympics Arizona 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament in April 2018! You can stand by your artwork proudly and share your vision while raising funds for Special Olympics Arizona through a silent auction of your very own photographs! Speaking of the 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament, if you want to take action shots, think about how cool it can be to have a camera, media pass, and ability to get down on the court and take photos of players in action! As just another part of Unified Photography, you can now gain access to the Special Olympics Arizona Media Team called the “Shot Callers” and be able to capture special moments at area competitions, state competitions, and even have some special opportunities to snap photos at professional sporting events thanks to our incredible partners and local sports teams!

Did you know your school can be involved in Unified Photography? That’s right! Rally your media team, film students, social media crew, and your Unified Club on campus to join in on Unified Photography this year by participating in our monthly Unified Arts Contests! Each month, schools and community delegations participate in Unified Art Contests and your photography crew can easily join in the fun and win awesome prizes! For more information, see Unified Arts Contests below!

Unified Gardening

We know many schools and community delegations are already involved in gardening programs, so why not give you more resources to support your awesome initiatives and programs to promote inclusion? Unified Gardening provides schools and community delegations the opportunity to get engaged and feel supported to learn more about gardening, how to grow healthy foods, and even have a chance to learn about recycling and healthy recipes that are easy to make!

Special Olympics Arizona is even offering a Unified Gardening Grant during the 2017-2018 school year! Does your school have a gardening program and would love Special Olympics Arizona to help support the growth of your program? Tell us in 200 words or less (and a photo or two) what you are doing with your garden on campus and how it promotes inclusion and unity, and you just might win some seed money to help your garden grow for another year! All submissions are due by December 21st, 2017 and must be emailed to Brittany Meola ( by the end of the day for your entry to be considered. A member of our SOAZ team will follow up with winning schools and send you a check to help grow your garden! For more information on the Unified Gardening Grant, click here!

This spring, we also challenge you to grow the biggest carrot you can possibly grow! Bring your carrots, and any other items from your garden that you would like to display, to your Area Track & Field competition. Winners will receive a special prize to help your garden program grow for years to come! We will announce multiple winners at the end of the competition and winners will be selected based on the length of the carrot, color of the carrot, width of the carrot, funniest shape of the carrot, and the best overall presentation of your garden!

Unified Arts Competitions

Throughout the year, your Unified Club, school, and/or community delegation will have a chance to participate in our Unified Arts Competitions! Each competition is unique and provides new prizes and incentives for you and your group to get involved! Start by expressing your interest in these contests by completing the Unified Arts Survey (registration form) so we can learn more about how you would like to get involved. Once you have completed that, you will begin receiving emails from us at letting you know who won the last competition and how you can compete in the next competition, not to mention the awesome prizes everyone is winning! Winners have had their artwork displayed on our website, blasted out on our social media, shared to thousands of recipients of the Special Olympics Arizona e-newsletter, and even have won some awesome awards like $50 gift certificates and art kits, so get involved now before it’s too late!

Unified Arts Competition Winners

We are excited to announce Coconino Alumni as the winner of our PSA Art Competition!

Margoth Carasquilla runs the Coconino Alumni community delegation and has been heavily involved for years! Margoth has taken inclusion to the next level with her community delegation by not only focusing on Unified Sports but also incorporating Unified Arts into their team! Coconino has been involved with our Unified Music Ukulele Curriculum and also participates in our Unified Arts Competitions! We are celebrating this awesome team by sharing their PSA on all of our social media formats including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, & YouTube!


Unified Arts Project Ideas

  • Create a mural on your campus to raise awareness for inclusion and promote Unified for years to come! (*Must get appropriate authorization prior!)
  • Create your own version of the Flame of Hope for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Arizona and run it into your school’s next pep assembly! Engage your School Resource Officers (SROs) on your campus and engage your entire school at a pep rally! We bet if you asked, we could even get LETR to bring our Flame of Hope to your campus – just ask!
  • Work with your school’s media team/class to create an inclusive video sharing why Unified Arts, Unified Champion Schools, and/or Unified Sports is important to you and how it has positively changed your school’s culture! Make a social media campaign to go along with your video and Special Olympics Arizona can share it on our social media, too!
  • Make a Unified Artwork using only recyclable materials found on campus
  • Have your students/peers design a postcard and write to your local representatives about the importance of art education and inclusion on campus!
  • Take over the snack bar during game day to FUNdraiser for your Unified Club & Unified Arts projects!
  • Have a Unified Hat Day and let students purchase #PlayUnified stickers (you received 500 free stickers in your Unified Club Kit this year) and be able to wear hats on campus all day!
  • Paint the Principal – WHY NOT? During lunch, have everyone gather in the courtyard as you raise funds for inclusion! Students can donate $5 to paint a colorful stripe in your principal’s hair with temporary hair color spray! Step it up a notch by having the principal stand in front of a large canvas and see how many people will donate $10 to throw a sponge with non-permanent paint at the principal! They’ll look colorful for inclusion and you will make a Unified Arts piece during the process (in case anyone misses this awesome day)!
  • Create a Unified Dance Marathon as part of the May 2018 Unified Arts Contest!

The Future of Unified Arts

We know that arts is an all-encompassing program and we are excited to watch it grow. In years to come, expect to see Unified Arts grow into dance, theatre, cooking, filmography, ceramics, and more! If you have an idea for the next Unified Arts program, please let us know!

Unified Arts Resources


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