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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


March 02, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Turkey

Yarkin and Furgan - new friendship begun!

By Serkan Ovatman

Yarkin and Furgan, unified football teammates and friends

Yarkın Gokcepınar (10 years old) and Furkan Simdi(11 years old) from Manisa/Salihli, in Turkey. They have started to play together in a Unified football team in September 2014 as a part of King Baudouin Unified Sports project.View Story Yarkın Gokcepınar (10 years old) and Furkan Simdi(11 years old) from Manisa/Salihli, in Turkey. They have started to play together in a Unified football team in September 2014 as a part of King Baudouin Unified Sports project. Since then, they have been regularly meeting at the trainings and they experienced their first Unified competition in December. Yarkin (Special Olympics athlete, left) enjoys playing football and he is excited that he is making new friends in his team. “I would like to practice even more with my friends from Belediye Spor. I am also looking forward to go with them to the cinema and picnic trips”. Furkan (Special Olympics partner, right) has never had any experiece with Special Olympics athletes before. As soon as he started to play in a Unified team, he begun to enjoy the Unified experience. “I would like the activities to happen more often as I would like to spend more time with Yarkin”. We are looking forward to hear more about this new friendship!

About Serkan Ovatman:I work in the sports department and I am Project Coordinator for ‘Having fun and making friends on and off the football pitch: social inclusion through Special Olympics Unified Sports Recreation in Turkey’’ supported by King Baudouin Foundation which runs between October 2014 – February 2016 in 6 locations in Turkey, supported by the Turkish Football Federation.
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February 13, 2015 | North America: North Carolina

Unified Sports Pair Shines on Ice

By Tappie Dellinger

Unified Sports Skating Pair Ashley Tanner and Cassidy Smith performing at the Smuckers' Skating Spectacular

At the end of January, a Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Sports ice skating pair from Mecklenburg County got the once –in –a-lifetime honor to perform in the 2015 Smuckers’ Skating Spectacular in Greensboro.View Story At the end of January, a Special Olympics North Carolina Unified Sports ice skating pair from Mecklenburg County got the once –in –a-lifetime honor to perform in the 2015 Smuckers’ Skating Spectacular in Greensboro along with many of the champions and medalists from the 2015 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Special Olympics Mecklenburg County athlete Ashley Tanner, 18, has been partnered with Cassidy Smith, 19, for less than a year as a Unified sports pair. The pair train under Coach Tappie Dellinger at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, NC. The Unified Sports pair skated to a medley of Michael Jackson’s hit songs. Tanner attends Butler High School in Matthews and Smith is a freshman at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. They both entered this event nervous but excited.

About Tappie Dellinger:Tappie Dellinger - I am the Coach of this Unified Sports pair and am so blessed they are in my life! They are a true inspiration!
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January 22, 2015 | North America: Colorado

Winter X Games Hosts Unified® Competition

By Rafael Pacheco

Cody Field, Special Olympics Snowboarder, practices in preparation for the X Games first Special Olympics Unified® competition.

Cody Field, Special Olympics snowboard world champion, competed for X Games glory along with nine other Special Olympics snowboarders who were paired with veteran pro riders in a combined-time race for the event's first Special Olympics Unified® competition.View Story Cody Field, Special Olympics snowboard world champion, competed for X Games glory along with nine other Special Olympics snowboarders who were paired with veteran pro riders in a combined-time race for the event's first Special Olympics Unified® competition.

About Rafael Pacheco:I am the e-Communications Product Manager for Special Olympics.
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Unified Sports® Events


Date

Event

Location

March 14, 2015

Second Annual Basketball Invitational

Join on us on March 14th at Bees Landing Rec Center and West Ashley in Charleston, South Carolina as our athletes compete and show their skill in basketball competition. Events will include: Youth and adult – traditional skills; 3 vs 3; traditional 5 vs 5; Unified 3 vs 3 and Unified 5 vs 5. In addition this event, we will be hosting opening ceremonies and a dance at Bees Landing Rec Center on Friday March 13th at 6pm.
For more information
Jennifer Tissot
Email:MOLIZONJ@charleston-sc.gov
Phone:843-708-3651
View More

Bees Landing Rec Center & West Ashley High School
Charleston, South Carolina
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
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Hood College
401 Rosemont Ave

Frederick, Maryland
UNITED STATES

Mar 28 - 29 2015

Unified® Duckpin Tournaments

Athletes across the state of Rhode Island will be competing in Unified Duckpin Bowling tournaments at Town Hall Lanes in Johnston, Rhode, Island. Athletes and Unified partners will compete in teams of 4. Teams will compete on a selected competition day. Saturday March 28th competitions will be held from 2:30-4:30pm. Sunday, March 29th competitions will be held from 12-2pm.
For more information
More Details
Chris Hopkins
Email:chris@specialolympicsri.org
Phone:401-349-4900
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Town Hall Lanes
1463 Atwood Avenue

Johnston, Rhode Island
UNITED STATES

April 18, 2015

Unified® Ten Pin Bowling Tournament

Join us April 18th at AMF Lanes in Cranston, Rhode Island as our athletes and their Unified Partners compete and show their skill in ten pin bowling competition. Come and cheer them on and witness the power of sports. For more details please use the contact information below.
For more information
More Details
Chris Hopkins
Email:chris@specialolympicsri.org
Phone:401-349-4900
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AMF Lanes
1450 Elmwood Avenue

Cranston, Rhode Island
UNITED STATES

April 19, 2015

Regional Swim Meet

Join us April 19th at North Charleston Pool in North Charleston, South Carolina as our as athletes compete and show their skill in aquatics competition. Traditional swim events and unified relays will be offered for this regional 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
Darline Brogdon
Email:darline.amb@hotmail.com
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North Charleston Pool
North Charleston, South Carolina
UNITED STATES

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