Unified Sports®

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.


ESPN and Special Olympics Unified Sports Program

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.  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.

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.


Unfied Sports® Stories and News


April 23, 2014 | North America: New York

A Unifying Force in New York

By Christy White

Special Olympics CEO Janet Froetscher joins Robert Zayas, Executive Director, New York State Public High School Athletic Association Neal Johnson, CEO Special Olympics New York join local NY athletes and Columbia High School students to announce the partnership

Special Olympics New York and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Inc. are partners in a new Unified Sports program, just one of only a few in the United States in which Special Olympics and a state association have collaborated.View Story Special Olympics New York and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Inc. are partners in a new Unified Sports program, just one of only a few in the United States in which Special Olympics and a state association have collaborated. The partnership will bring together students with and without intellectual disabilities for the opportunity to compete on one team. The partnership establishes a pilot unified basketball program where 12 schools will participate in practices and games spanning approximately eight weeks. Schools will have the opportunity to compete in their first game on 5 May. Janet Froetscher, Special Olympics CEO, said, "We believe that the youth of today are a unifying force and our Project UNIFY strategy is a proven model that breaks down barriers of misunderstanding, activating youth as leaders, and encouraging whole school involvement."

About Christy White:I am the Director of Global Media and Public Relations for Special Olympics.
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April 18, 2014 | Europe Eurasia: Hellas (Greece)

Kayak Event Recognizes International Day of Sport for Peace and Development

By Joanna Despotopoulou

On the occasion of the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development on 6 April 2014, 35 Special Olympics Hellas (Greece) athletes and 22 Unified partners from Athens and Chania participated in the Kayak national championship “SOUDA 2014.”View Story On the occasion of the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development on 6 April 2014, 35 Special Olympics Hellas (Greece) athletes and 22 Unified partners from Athens and Chania participated in the Kayak national championship “SOUDA 2014.” The championship was organized by the Nautical Club of Chania in cooperation with Special Olympics Hellas, and held in the famous Souda Bay (Chania, Island of Grete). The event brought together Special Olympics athletes with Olympic and World Class athletes from different nautical clubs of Greece who competed in the spirit of unity celebrating peace and sport in an environment of acceptance.

About Joanna Despotopoulou:Joanna Despotopoulou is President of Special Olympics Hellas.
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April 18, 2014 | North America: Ohio

Special Olympics of Hamilton County and Univ. of Cincinnati Unified Scrimmage...a note of thanks

By Caitlin Oglitree via Leslie Daly ( SOHC Volleyball Coordinator)

It's always a huge blessing working with Special Olympics. These athletes are always so full of love, energy, and smiles.View Story It's always a huge blessing working with Special Olympics. These athletes are always so full of love, energy, and smiles. It's funny how they think that we (college athletes) are the huge deals. They think so highly of us. In reality, being a college athlete isn't what brings us pure joy. Don't get me wrong, it's an incredible experience that I am so fortunate to be a part of! However, I believe that there's so much more to life than being a student athlete. Sometimes, as college athletes, we get caught up in that label, and don't look at the bigger picture of life. I believe that finding your purpose, loving others and loving life is what brings us joy. These athletes are the huge deal! They are constantly showing us acts of love, encouragement and kindness. So I thank THEM for allowing us to step into their world and put life into perspective.

About Caitlin Oglitree via Leslie Daly ( SOHC Volleyball Coordinator):Caitlin Oglitree is a University Of Cincinnati Lady Bearcat who is a junior setter for the UC Volleyball Team. For the last 2 years, she has been an active participant in growing the relationship between the UC Lady Bearcats Volleyball program and the SOHC Volleyball programs.
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Unified Sports® Events


Date

Event

Location

May 1 - 3 2014

Summer Games - Arizona

Join Special Olympics Arizona on 1-3 May at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona as athletes from around the state compete in 3 days of athletic competition. Athletes will be competing in the following sports: athletics, powerlifting, kayaking, Unified kayaking doubles, softball, tennis and Unified tennis. Hope to see you there!
For more information
More Details
Jamie Heckerman
Email:jamie@SpecialOlympicsArizona.org
Phone:602-230-9135
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Grand Canyon University
3300 W. Camelback Rd.

Phoenix, Arizona
UNITED STATES

May 02, 2014

2014 Unified Outdoor Bocce State High School Invitational

Unified Sports® provides a means which brings together students with and without disabilities in a fulfilling inclusion experience. Unified Sports® teams are composed of a proportional number of students with intellectual disabilities, other types of disabilities, and students without disabilities who train and compete together on the same team. This event is scheduled for Friday, May 2, 2014. Schedule: 10:00 AM Schools Arrive; 10:45 AM Opening Ceremony; 11:00 AM Competition; 2:00 PM Awards; 6:00 PM Departure To register to volunteer, please visit: http://www.somd.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/
For more information
More Details
Melissa Kelly
Email:mkelly@somd.org
Phone:410-242-1515 ext 142
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Washington College
300 Washington Ave

Chestertwon, Maryland
UNITED STATES

May 14 - 16 2014

45th Annual Summer Games - Oklahoma

Join Special Olympics Oklahoma on 14-16 May at Oklahoma State University (Gallagher Iba Area) in Stillwater, Arizona as athletes from around the state compete in 2 days of athletic competition. Athletes will compete in nine sports: Athletics (Track and Field), Bocce, Bowling, Golf, Horseshoes, Powerlifting, Unified 3-on-3 Basketball, and Unified Softball. Other events include Motor Activities and Stars of the Future. Hope to see you there!
For more information
More Details
Teri Hockett
Phone:teri@sook.org
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Oklahoma State University
Gallagher Iba Arena

Stillwater, Oklahoma
UNITED STATES

May 16, 2014

Tennesse State Summer Games

The 2014 State Summer Games will be held May 16th and 17th in Nashville, TN. Over 2500 athletes, coaches, volunteers, and family members will attend the two day event. Athletes will compete in seven sports:Aquatics, Athletics, Bocce, Unified Bocce, Powerlifting, Tennis, and Unified Volleyball
For more information
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Meg Takahashi
Phone:615-329-1375
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Lipscomb University and Centennial Sportsplex
Nashville, Tennesse
UNITED STATES

May 23 - 25 2014

Louisiana State Summer Games

Join us May 23-25 at Southeastern Louisiana University in the city of Hammond as athletes from across the state will compete in Athletics (Track & Field), Bocce, Powerlifting and Unified Volleyball. Sign up today to play, coach or volunteer for this event. For more details, refer to the contact information below.
For more information
More Details
Special Olympics Louisiana
Email:volunteer@laso.org
Phone:1-800-345-6644
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Southeastern Louisiana University
Hammond, Louisiana
UNITED STATES

May 30 - Jun 1 2014

New Mexico State Summer Games

Join us for 3 days of competition at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque as athletes from around the state compete in athletics, bocce, unified soccer, Unified volleyball. Experience the power sport and cheer on our athletes. We hope to see you there. See link below for more details.
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University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
UNITED STATES

May 30 - Jun 1 2014

Georgia State Summer Games

More than 1,800 Special Olympics athletes, Unified Partners and coaches from around the state will descend on Emory University to compete in Aquatics, Athletics, Soccer, Badminton, Volleyball, Tennis, Gymnastics, and Table Tennis with over 600 coaches to guide them in competition. The games are free and open to the public.
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Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia
UNITED STATES

May 30 - Jun 1 2014

Rhode Island State Summer Games

After weeks of training and competing at Area Games, athletes from all over Rhode Island will be compete against their peers in aquatics, athletics, bowling, cycling, motor activities training program, powerlifting and unified soccer. We invite you to join us on the University of Rhode Island campus and watch our athletes achieve their personal best! For more details click on the link below.
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University of Rhode Island
Kingston, Rhode Island
UNITED STATES

Jun 13 - 15 2014

Open Water Swimming Coaches Training

Special Olympics Netherlands is organizing a Coaches Train the Trainer workshop on Open Water Swimming and hosting a Unified Open Water Swimming competition for 50 athletes on June 13-15 in Heerenveen/Sneek, Holland.
For more information
More Details
Natascha Bruers
Email:n.bruers@specialolympics.nl
Phone:+31 30 659 7349
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Heerenveen/Sneek
The Netherlands, Holland
NETHERLANDS

Oct 10 - 12 2014

Special Olympics Bangladesh National Games

Special Olympics Bangladesh’s National Games will welcome an estimated 800 athletes and 100 Unified Sports® partners across Bangladesh. Ten sports will be played: athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, cricket, football, handball, swimming, table tennis and volleyball. The three day event will be held across different venues: Bangabandhu National Stadium, Army Stadium, National Indoor Stadium & Swimming pool and the Bangladesh Sports Education Institute (BKSP).
For more information
Faruqul Islam
Email:sobangla@gmail.com
Phone:+880 1819 259844
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Bangabandhu National Stadium & other venuesDhaka
BANGLADESH

Oct 29 - Nov 10 2014

Special Olympics Unified Football Cup

Modeled after the FIFA World Cup, the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world, the Special Olympics Unified Football Cup will bring together qualifying Unified Sports football (soccer) teams from 25 countries representing each of the Special Olympics seven regions to compete and showcase as never before, the bravery, ability and joy of Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners worldwide. Countries that rose to the top during qualifying events and are participating in the Unified Football Cup include: Ivory Coast, South Africa, Tanzania, Libya, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Korea, France, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and the United States of America.
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MALAYSIA

Nov 6 - 8 2014

15th National Invitational Tennis Championship

Join us as Special Olympics South Carolina hosts the Special Olympics North America 15th National Tennis Championships. Athletes will compete in 5 levels of competition: Level 1 – Individual Skills Competition; Level 2 – Singles/Doubles/ Unified Doubles; Level 4 – Singles/Doubles/ Unified Doubles; Level 5 – Singles/Doubles/ Unified Doubles. Come fill the stands to cheer and support our athletes. See you there!
For more information
Kelly Garrick
Email:kgarrick@so-sc.org
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Van der Meer Shipyard Tennis Resort
116 Shipyard Drive

Hilton Head Island, 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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Made Possible by The Annenberg Foundation

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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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