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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


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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December 24, 2014 | Latin America: Mexico

Orlando Daniel Martinez Unified Partner

By Paola Martinelli

Unified Team of Guanajuato

Being part of a unified Special Olympics team has made me mature as an athlete and as a person. The experience of being able to travel and compete at a high level with my colleagues in my country is what delighted me in Special Olympics.View Story Being part of a unified Special Olympics team has made me mature as an athlete and as a person. The experience of being able to travel and compete at a high level with my colleagues in my country is what delighted me in Special Olympics The biggest challenges is how to train in a unified team and win the next World Games in Los Angeles California. I would say to others who do not belong to a unified team to come and experience the different Special Olympics disciplines because things are very nice in inclusive living. Being in a unified team trying to my colleagues but beyond brotherhood.

About Paola Martinelli:National Director of Communications and Marketing
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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

February 28, 2015

State Unified Basketball Finals

Approximately 450 athletes and 125 coaches/chaperones participate in the state unified basketball finals each year. Unified basketball teams consist of players both with and without intellectual disabilities. Unified Basketball Tournament Schedule (Subject to Change): Saturday, February 28, 2015. 8:00 a.m.: Coaches Meeting. 8:30 a.m.: Opening Ceremony. 9:00 a.m.: Competition Begins - WMU Student Recreation Center. 10:00 a.m.: Parents' Reception - WMU Student Recreation Center. 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.: Lunch - WMU Bernhard Center. 3:00 p.m. (approximately): End of Competition WMU Student Recreation Center
For more information
More Details
Nick Caudle
Email:caudl1n@cmich.edu
Phone:616-583-1202
View More

Western Michigan University's Student Recreation Center
Kalamazoo, Michigan
UNITED STATES

Feb 28 - Mar 1 2015

Special Olympics Connecticut Winter Games

You are invited to join us on February 28th through March 1st to cheer on our athletes and witness great displays of sportsmanship, teamwork and personal achievements in sports. Athletes will be competing in following sports at the following venues: Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding at Ski Sundown, New Hartford; Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing at Connecticut Light & Power, Simsbury; Figure Skating, Speed Skating at the International Skating Center of Connecticut, Simsbury; and Unified Sports® & Traditional Floor Hockey, Skills at the Pratt & Whitney Hangar, East Hartford. Winter Games competitions will kick-off with opening ceremonies at each venue that include the ceremonial lighting of the Special Olympics Flame of Hope, announcement of athletes, brief remarks, and the declaration of Special Olympics’ Athlete Oath. Events conclude with the presentation of awards. This event is open to public to attend at now cost. For more details please use the contact information below.
For more information
More Details
Special Olympics Connecticut
Email:specialolympicsct@soct.org
Phone:203-230-1201
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Various Venues
Various Cities, Connecticut
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

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
View More

AMF Lanes
1450 Elmwood Avenue

Cranston, Rhode Island
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 »


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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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