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Unified Sports®

In a Unified basketball game between host Egypt and Algeria, Esraa Hussien of Egypt looks up before shooting. Basketball was one of several sports played that featured teams of people with and without intellectual disabilities.

Team sports bring people together. Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams do that, too and much more. Half a million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a really fun way.


300x200 New Jersey Soccer team

Members of the unified soccer team for Special Olympics New Jersey saw the new unified sports legislation signed into law. Learn More

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, which 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.

U.S. States Embracing Unified Sports  

Young people with disabilities don't often get a chance to play on their school sports teams, but more and more U.S. states are adopting the unified sports approach that Special Olympics pioneered. The governor of New Jersey just signed a bill into law that encourages schools to make opportunities for sports participation available to all students. Special Olympics New Jersey, which championed the new law, is cited in the new law as a consulting organization. For almost 20 years, Special Olympics has offered sport teams that blend people with and without intellectual disabilities, and that is a model that encourages sports and fun, and which also gets people together to learn more about each other. Read more about the new law in our press release.

Building Unified Sports With ESPN and Disney 

The Walt Disney Company, ESPN and Special Olympics have announced a two-year global initiative that will leverage the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance through the Special Olympics Unified Sports program. With a multi-million dollar financial and in-kind investment, Disney and ESPN will support Special Olympics’ goal of registering one million Unified Sports participants--athletes with intellectual disabilities, teammates without intellectual disabilities and coaches--by 2015. Read more about this exciting news.

In addition, thanks to the generosity of Special Olympics Board Member Kim Samuel and her family’s foundation, Special Olympics has been able to build capacity for Unified Sports through technology, enhanced education materials and seed grants to Special Olympics Programs that would not otherwise have the funds to start or expand Unified Sports.


Unified Sports® Coaching Guides

Unfied Sports® Stories and News


August 18, 2015 | North America: Louisiana

Perks of Playing Unified

By Casey Minton

SOLA athlete, Camrin Sandoz represented Special Olympics Louisiana when he traveled to Washington, DC to compete in the Quicken Loans National Pro-Am sponsored by Perfect Sense Digital.View Story Camrin Sandoz represented Special Olympics Louisiana when he traveled to Washington, DC to compete in the Quicken Loans National Pro-Am sponsored by Perfect Sense Digital. This picture above is of Cam and professional golfer Arjun Atwal. Once their round of golf was finished, Cam gave Arjun a Special Olympics Unified Golf Gold medal (you can see it in Arjun’s right hand in the shot). Cam had won the medal this year at the Louisiana State Golf Tournament. He told Arjun “I know you have won lots of money and trophies as a pro golfer but I bet you have never won a Special Olympics Gold medal.” At first Arjun said he couldn’t accept Cam’s gold medal, but Cam quickly said, “Don’t worry I’ll win another one next year!”

About Casey Minton:Director of Internal Communications and Marketing
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July 02, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Estonia

First Unified Basketball Team in Estonia: "Everybody’s equal on the basketball court"

By Tiina Möll

The first Unified Estonian basketball team.

In Viljandimaa, Estonia, a Unified Basketball team was formed last year. We had a chance to hear the coach, Kuuno Tiitus, reflect on his experiences.View Story In Viljandimaa, Estonia, a Unified Basketball team was formed last year. We had a chance to hear the coach, Kuuno Tiitus, reflect on his experiences. In this particular case, one can truly say that the coach was initially the unifying element – he had been coaching a basketball team made up of SO athletes for several years and at one point decided to invite some players from another team he was coaching to join the game as partners. This is how the Unified team was born. The athletes and partners, all of whom are students or alumni of three schools in the area, had until then occasionally been in contact through various school or sports events but they had not played together until last year. Now, especially with the World Games approaching, they play together at least once per week. Kuuno Tiitus stresses that everybody has very equal skills and abilities and they play similarly on the court – there is no differentiation between who is with and who is without intellectual disability. „

About Tiina Möll:I work with Special Olympics in Estonia.
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June 25, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Turkey

Families stand behind Unified School Program in Turkey

By Özge Özkan

Sabahat Demirtaş (l) and Tuncay Demirtaş (right) and their daughter Buket.

Parents are weighing in on the value of the Unified Schools Program in Turkey. Muradiye Akalar is the mother of twins Aral and Ural, aged 4, who participate in inclusive equestrian activities in Samsun on the north coast of Turkey. “I don’t want people to look at my children in a different way."View Story Parents are weighing in on the value of the Unified Schools Program in Turkey. Muradiye Akalar is the mother of twins Aral and Ural, aged 4, who participate in inclusive equestrian activities in Samsun on the north coast of Turkey. “I don’t want people to look at my children in a different way. Through this program, all children, with and without disabilities, share the same environment. This has helped me and my children become more confident.” Sabahat Demirtaş and Tuncay Demirtaş, also from Samsun, can see the impact of the program on their daughter, Buket, aged 28, a swimmer. “Buket feels free and happy in the water and it is good to see her make new friends and gain confidence when she interacts with Unified partners,” said her mother Sabahat. The Unified Schools Program, supported by the Sabanci Foundation, involves 800 children and youths from schools, clubs and universities who participate in inclusive sport, education and volunteering activities.

About Özge Özkan :Özge Özkan is involved in community impact initiatives in Special Olympics Turkey including Youth and Schools and Healthy Athletes.
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Got news or a great Unified Sports® story to share? Share with our online form.


Unified Sports® Events


Date

Event

Location

September 08, 2015

Unified 9-Hole Golf Tournament

Join us September 8th at Lakewood Golf Course in Madison, Maine as our athletes compete and show their skill in Unified golf competition. Come and cheer on our athletes and witness the power of sports. For more details please use the contact information below.
For more information
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Special Olympics Maine
Phone:207-879-0489
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Lakewood Golf Course
Madison, Maine
UNITED STATES

November 19, 2015

Lexington School Districts 1-4 Bowling Tournament

Come and cheer on our elementary and middle schools as they demonstrate their courage and determination for a day of traditional and unified bowling competition. This event will be held on November 19th at JC's Lexington Bowl in Lexington, South Carolina. Support our athletes and experience sports in its truest form.
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JC's Lexington Bowl
5380 Augusta Rd

Lexington, South Carolina
UNITED STATES

November 19, 2015

Lexington/Richland School District 5 Bowling Tournament

Want to experience bowling competition in its purest form? Come to Anchor Lanes in Irmo, South Carolina on November 19th to cheer on our athletes as they compete in traditional and unified bowling. Be a fan of the Special Olympics and help us promote the joy of sports.
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Anchor Lanes
1000 Columbia Ave

Irmo, South Carolina
UNITED STATES

November 20, 2015

Lexington School Districts 1-4 High School Bowling Tournament

Join us November 20th at JC's Lexington Bowl in Lexington, South Carolina as all high schools compete and show their skill in traditional and unified bowling competition. Come and cheer on our athletes and witness the power of sports.
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JC's Lexington Bowl
5380 Augusta Rd

Lexington, South Carolina
UNITED STATES

February 25, 2016

Area 7 Basketball Tournament

Join us February 25th at Airport High School in West Columbia, South Carolina as schools from Lexington School Districts 1-5 and Richland 2 will come together to compete in individual skills, team skills, 3x3 traditional and Unified, and 5x5 traditional and Unified basketball competition. Come and cheer on our athletes and witness the power of sports.
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Airport High School
1315 Boston Ave

West Columbia, South Carolina
UNITED STATES

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How to Get Involved in Special Olympics

Special Olympics sports training, coaching and competitions go on in more than 170 countries around the world. You can get involved by getting in touch with the closest Special Olympics office.

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Videos and Photos

Coaching in SerbiaCoaches from three countries met in Serbia to hone their skills.See slideshow »


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In Deep WaterGo feet first for one of the newest Special Olympics sports.See Slideshow »


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Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


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Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


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First Unity CupSpecial Olympics uses football to promote understanding.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »



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