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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


May 14, 2015 | Latin America: Brazil

Special Olympics and Lions Clubs Play Unified in Brazil

By Christian Guiralt

From 23-27 March, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International joined forces in Brazil to hold a Unified Volleyball Coaching Training.View Story From 23-27 March, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International joined forces in Brazil to hold a Unified Volleyball Coaching Training. Supported by former Olympian and Special Olympics Brazil Ambassador Jackie Silva, more than 30 coaches and athletes were given the necessary instruction to create Unified Volleyball teams. Volleyball’s popularity in Brazil and its status as a priority sport for Special Olympics Latin America made this training extremely successful! In the morning, participants attended a theoretical session and then attended a practice session on Ipanema Beach. Other special guests included George Millard, President of Special Olympics Brazil, Tom Goman, Special Olympics Brazil Board Member and several representatives from Lions Clubs Brazil and Special Olympics International. ESPN also provided coverage of the event, which can be through the link below.

About Christian Guiralt:I am the Director for Sport and Development at Special Olympics.
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May 12, 2015 | North America: New York

Deciding to Coach

By Kyndra Benoit

I work at an ARC home and started a small basketball game for a few of the houses before I found out about special olympics in our area. I got a few of the guys from my house interested and one of the women just went to watch.View Story I work at an ARC home and started a small basketball game for a few of the houses before I found out about Special Olympics in our area. I got a few of the guys from my house interested and one of the women just went to watch. She enjoyed it so much she began playing as well. I was asked to help out since I went every week and I had not played basketball in about 6 years due to medical reasons. I eventually went through the coaches trained and became certified. I absolutely love doing and the guys on my team are so inspiring. I have decided to help out in other sports because working for such a great organization is the most fun thing I can do. I look forward to it every week and am disappointed that it is only once a week. Knowing what it is like to be limited, as I am medically, it is such a great feeling being involved in this.

About Kyndra Benoit:I am a coach for basketball currently. I work at a residential house for Ulster-Greene ARC. I used to play basketball for high school and a little in college before I got sick with an abnormal case of arthritis. I have not been able to play for about 6 years. I am just now being able to play and have been with the Ulster Tigers this season.
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May 06, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Turkey

Mayor supports Unified Sports Recreation model in Turkey

By Serkan Ovatman

Salihli Mayor Zeki Kayda and young members of a local inclusive football team.

The Mayor of Salihli visited the Ali İhsan Karayiğit Football Field in early May to watch children with and without intellectual disabilities enjoy a football training session. The session is part of a project implementing the Unified Sports Recreation model for 600 children in Turkey.View Story The Mayor of Salihli visited the Ali İhsan Karayiğit Football Field in early May to watch children with and without intellectual disabilities enjoy a football training session. The session is part of a project implementing the Unified Sports Recreation model for 600 children, aged 8 to 12, in six cities in Turkey. The project, promoting inclusion on and off the football pitch, involves Special Olympics Turkey and is funded by the King Baudouin Foundation and supported by the Turkish Football Federation and six professional football clubs, including the Salihli Municipality Football Club. Mayor Zeki Kayda, and Deputy Mayors Yalım Şenkaya and Mahmut Surayya Karaoğlu and Municipal Sports Affairs Director Uğur Kocagoz who also attended, are enthusiastic supporters of the project. As he presented children with jerseys, Mayor Kayda said, “We are happy to see children from our community play together and make friendships that will last a lifetime.”

About Serkan Ovatman:Serkan Ovatman is Special Olympics Turkey Sports Director Assistant and national project coordinator.
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Unified Sports® Events


Date

Event

Location

August 13, 2015

Unified Sports Golf Tournament

Join us August 13th in Douglas, Wyoming as our athletes compete and show their skill in 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
More Details
Special Olympics Wyoming
Phone:307-235-3062
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Douglas, Wyoming
UNITED STATES

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
More Details
Special Olympics Maine
Phone:207-879-0489
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Lakewood Golf Course
Madison, Maine
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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Made Possible by The Annenberg Foundation

The Special Olympics movement is profoundly grateful for the support of the Annenberg Foundation which has underwritten the production of the coaches’ guides and resources, supporting our global goals for coaches’ excellence.

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Videos and Photos

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


Videos and Photos

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


Videos and Photos

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


Videos and Photos

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


Videos and Photos

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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