Help us make a difference!

Make Your Year-End Gift by Dec. 31st - your donation will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, and change more lives.

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.


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.


Unfied Sports® Stories and News


December 17, 2014 | Latin America: Puerto Rico

Special Olympics and Lions Clubs Play Unified in Puerto Rico

By David Evangelista

As spectators streamed into a sports complex in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the inaugural event of the 2014 Lions Clubs International USA/Canada Forum, it was clear that something unique was about to happen.View Story As spectators streamed into a sports complex in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the inaugural event of the 2014 Lions Clubs International USA/Canada Forum, it was clear that something unique was about to happen. Two Unified basketball teams – made up of Special Olympics Puerto Rico athletes and Leos from Puerto Rico – took the court sporting new uniforms adorning the logos of two organizations dedicated to ensuring that basketball was just the start. The game highlighted the exciting expansion of the organization’s partnership, “Mission: Inclusion”, which provides key vision care and health services to Special Olympics athletes and promotes inclusive sports programming among their global Leo youth network. “It’s fantastic what we are seeing here this evening. Together, we are creating new ways to serve our communities, and demonstrate the power that youth can have in charting this course,” said Joe Preston, President of Lions Clubs International.

About David Evangelista:I am the Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations at Special Olympics.
Share
View less ▲

December 15, 2014 | Africa: Kenya

Learning from Special Olympics athletes

By John Onani

Myself trying to make a shot.

At first I was apprehensive because before then I had never interacted with any individual with intellectual disabilities. But on the first day of training all my fears and misconceptions were erased by the great experience I had.View Story I was invited to join the Special Olympics Kenya University of Nairobi club by my classmate who was already a unified partner. At first I was apprehensive because before then I had never interacted with any individual with intellectual disabilities. But on the first day of training all my fears and misconceptions were erased by the great experience I had. I discovered that individuals with intellectual disabilities are just like me, they have dreams and desires and given the opportunity they can as well shine like any other young person. Since then I have made lasting friendship with my teammates with intellectual disabilities, actually I have noticed that they also value our friendship and therefore I should not take them for granted. Above the friendship and changed attitude I have learnt many important virtues from Special Olympics athletes, I have learnt determination, consistency and patience. I can say I have become a better person since I joined Special Olympics Kenya.

About John Onani:My name is John Onani,I'm 20 years old and I'm a basketball unified partner at the university of Nairobi Special Olympics Kenya club.I joined Special Olympics Kenya this year.
Share
View less ▲

December 12, 2014 | Africa: Kenya

Inclusion and Acceptance

By Jeff Bisley

My self making a block (bib no.7)

My life has changed since I joined Special Olympics Kenya, I appreciate the way the coaches dedicate themselves in giving us consistent training.View Story My life has changed since I joined Special Olympics Kenya, I appreciate the way the coaches dedicate themselves in giving us consistent training. When my coach invited us to play Unified beach volleyball I thought that it would be very difficult to have a meaningful experience since the unified partners would be highly skilled than us. But over time I have I began to see that we were all learning from our coach and also helping each other in training. Training and competing with the unified partners has given me a lot of confidence both on and out of the field. I don't fear interacting with my peers without intellectual disabilities any more. I thank Special Olympics for promoting inclusion,slowly everybody will be able to understand us and include us in their day to day life.

About Jeff Bisley:I am 20 years and play volleyball as well middle and long distance track events.
Share
View less ▲

Do You Have a Story to Share?

Got news or a great Unified Sports® story to share? Share with our online form.


Unified Sports® Events


Date

Event

Location

Feb 23 - 24 2015

2015 Winter Games - Maryland

Join us 23-24 February 2015 at Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, Maryland for two days of snowshoe and alpine skiing competition. The alpine skiing events will include: Advanced Giant Slalom, Advanced Slalom, Advanced Slalom (Unified), Advanced Super G, Advanced Super G (Unified), Intermediate Giant Slalom, Intermediate Slalom, Intermediate Slalom (Unified), Intermediate Super G, Intermediate Super G (Unified), Novice Giant Slalom, Novice Slalom, Super Glide, Glide. The snowshoe events will include: 25 meter, 50 meter, 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter, 5 kilometer, 10 kilometer, 4 x 100 meter relay, 4 x 200 meter relay, 4 x 400 meter relay, 4 x 100 meter relay (Unified), 4 x 200 meter relay (Unified), 4 x 400 meter relay (Unified). For more information please refer to the details and contact info below.
For more information
More Details
Mike Czarnowsky
Email:mczarnowsky@somd.org
Phone:410-242-1515
View More

Ski Whitetail
13805 Blairs Valley Road

Mercersburg, Maryland
UNITED STATES

Mar 21 - 22 2015

2015 Basketball Tournament

Join us 21-22 March 2015 in Frederick, Maryland as over 400 athletes and 70 Unified partners from around the state compete in two days of basketball tournament action. Events will include 5 v. 5 traditional competition and well as 5 v. 5 Unified competition. For schedule and location details please refer to link below.
For more information
Schedule Details
Mike Czarnowsky
Email:mczarnowsky@somd.org
Phone:410-242-1515
View More

Hood College
401 Rosemont Ave

Frederick, Maryland
UNITED STATES

May 29 - 31 2015

2015 New Mexico State Summer Games

Join us for the largest state competition of the year May 29-31. Athletes from across the state will compete in track & field, bocce, and Unified volleyball at the University of New Mexico Track and Field Stadium. Come and cheer on our athletes and witness the power of sports. Hope to see you there!
For more information
View More

University of New Mexico Track and Field Stadium
Albuquerque, New Mexico
UNITED STATES

Jun 5 - 7 2015

2015 Maryland Summer Games

Join us 5-7 June 2015 at Towson University in Towson, Maryland as our athletes compete in 3 days of exciting summer sports competition. Events will include: Aquatics – traditional individual events and team relays, Unified team relays; Athletics – traditional and Unified track, mini-javelin, high jump, long jump, pentathlon, softball throw, shot put, standing long jump, tennis ball throw; Bocce – singles, doubles, Unified doubles; Cheerleading – traditional and Unified team competition; Softball – traditional team competition, Unified team competition, individual skills competition. For schedule details please refer to the link, below.
For more information
Schedule Details
Mike Czarnowsky
Email:mczarnowsky@somd.org
Phone:410-242-1515
View More

Towson University
8000 York Ave

Towson, Maryland
UNITED STATES

Do you have an event to add?

Tell us about it so we can publish the details to our calendar.

Register Your Event

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.

Special Olympics near you»

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.

LEARN MORE»

Follow us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 226 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

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 »



*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan

Your Year-End Donation Helps Transform Lives Through Sports!

Make your year-end tax-deductible donation and help us get one more person onto the playing field.

Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar through Dec. 31.