Interscholastic Unified Sports
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Special Olympics New York are proud to offer Unified Sports to NYSPHSAA member schools. Currently, nine out of eleven sections and 130 schools are participating in Unified Sports in New York State.
In the spring of 2018, Section IV introduced its first Interscholastic Unified Sports Basketball Teams, and the Horseheads Central School District developed the Unified Raiders Basketball Team. The following year, the district added a Unified Bowling Team. In 2020-21, the district worked with Special Olympics to beta test an esports team, with students in friendly video game competition against schools across the U.S.
The program was presented to the Horseheads Board of Education in December 2017. The district will be competing with other schools in Section IV Athletics for their first year of inclusive spring sports. The district is hoping to see the program grow to include other sports in the future.
Special Olympics Project UNIFY is built on the premise that in order to have the greatest impact, the change needs to start with young people.
Unified Sports® is a registered program of Special Olympics that combines equal numbers of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on sports teams for training and competition. It is an educational and sports based strategy that increases athletic and leadership opportunities and creates communities of acceptance for all students.
All Unified Sports® players, both athletes and special partners, are of similar age and matched sport skill ability. Unified Sports® teams are placed in competitive divisions based on their skill abilities. Besides providing a similar competitive experience to regular school interscholastic sports, players also gain physical fitness, develop friendships and demonstrate appreciation and respect for each other both on and off the playing field.
Read more about Unified Sports on the Special Olympics website here.
UNIFIED CHAMPION SCHOOL COMPONENTS
Whole School Engagement
Unified Sports provides a vehicle for
- Activities that improve achievement and lead to lifelong success for all students
- Building awareness and understanding in staff and the entire student body
The purpose of a Unified Sports team is to provide authentic, competitive opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to participate in athletics. Active inclusion through athletics provides educational benefits to all participants.
Inclusive Youth Leadership
Students with and without intellectual disabilities will have opportunities to educate, motivate and become agents of change in their communities through
- Youth Summits
- Youth Activation Committee (YAC)
- Partners Clubs
WHOLE SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT
An important feature of creating a socially inclusive school climate is engaging the entire school community in the process.
Whole School Engagement activities positively impact school climate by including all students, teachers, staff, and administrators. An inclusive school climate that fosters understanding and respect for all can influence how students think and act within and beyond the school. School-wide opportunities focused on social inclusion raise awareness and create an educational environment where respect and acceptance are the norm and all students feel included and engaged. This welcoming community cultivates a positive school climate and enhances other school-wide efforts.
Whole school activities also offer a platform to demonstrate the power of young people to positively impact their school community by promoting social inclusion.
Section IV Unified Basketball
Athletes practice at least two times per week for three to four weeks. There are six games of interscholastic play, with both home and away games.
Athletes practice two times per week for three to four weeks. There are competitions two times per week, both home and away.
Team Selection Process:
- Teams are comprised of students with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and without intellectual disabilities (partners). Players of a similar ability level participate in authentic competition
- The game line-up has an equal number of those with and those without disabilities.
INCLUSIVE YOUTH LEADERSHIP: Youth Activation Committee
The Youth Activation Committee (YAC) is made up of youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities from the same school. Its purpose is to educate, motivate, and activate youth to become agents of change in their communities through advocacy for respect, inclusion, and acceptance for all people.
Through the YAC, students plan and implement activities that create a culture of inclusiveness in the school. The purpose is to create a whole school environment where authentic social inclusion and learning happens through meaningful activity providing for respect and dignity for all.
Please Alisha Tenbus at firstname.lastname@example.org.