Special Olympics Michigan Unified Champion Schools
Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools is a strategy aimed at empowering a generation of students to change their school culture to be more socially inclusive. With sports as the foundation, the three-component model offers activities that equip students with tools and training to create teams, classrooms, and entire schools of acceptance. Unified Champion Schools are schools where students with disabilities feel welcome and are meaningfully included in all school activities, opportunities, and functions.
This is accomplished by implementing three components of Unified Champion Schools: Inclusive Student Leadership, Unified Sports, and Whole School Engagement. All three areas are crucial to shift the culture of a school toward inclusion. Once the three components are active, a school is considered a Unified Champion School.
The Unified Champion School strategy can be adapted to fit the needs of each school ranging in grade levels Pre-K to college. Each school’s implementation can look and feel different as the strategy is meant to be woven into the school’s existing fabric.
- Unified 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, Unified PE, or Unified Intramurals.
- Whole School Engagement: 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 school-wide 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.