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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 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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May 06, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Turkey

Football clinics held in Turkey as part of King Baudouin Foundation project

By Serkan Ovatman

Professional coach Nail Yalcin and young inclusive team members.

Clinics run by Turkish Football Federation coaches gave children with and without intellectual disabilities a chance to learn new skills and have fun. The clinics are part of the King Baudouin Foundation project that is implementing the Unified Sports Recreation model in six cities in Turkey.View Story Clinics run by Turkish Football Federation (TTF) coaches gave children with and without intellectual disabilities a chance to learn new skills and have fun. The clinics, held in April, are part of the King Baudouin Foundation project that is implementing the Unified Sports Recreation model among children (8-12) in six cities in Turkey. “The TTF is happy to provide coaches and professional club facilities so that Special Olympics coaches and players have a quality experience on the pitch,” said Aktug Sonmez, TTF’s children and school football specialist. Coach Nail Yalcin, from the Salihli Municiplity Sport Club, said: “As a coach it is great to share my knowledge and skills so that children with and without intellectual disabilities learn to play and live together.” Semih Cevik, from Zonguldak, one of 50 Special Olympics Turkey coaches participating in the project, said: “I learned new skills that will help me teach my young Unified players to be better teammates and friends.”

About Serkan Ovatman:Serkan Ovatman is the Special Olympics Turkey sports director assistant and national project coordinator.
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April 22, 2015 | North America: District of Columbia

Wizards help DC to Spread the Word to End the Word

By Maria-Nelly Johnson

In an effort to raise awareness for the Special Olympics Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, Wizards players participated in a Special Olympics DC Unified basketball game at St. Coletta’s.View Story In an effort to raise awareness for the Special Olympics Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, Wizards players participated in a Special Olympics DC Unified basketball game at St. Coletta’s. A Special Olympics unified game involves teams made up of a mix of people with and without intellectual disabilities. John Wall, Marcin Gortat, Garrett Temple, Otto Porter, Ramon Sessions and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt(Washington Mystics) served as honorary coaches, referees, and game announcers during the game on April 2. The Spread the Word campaign encourages people to not use the word "retard" thoughtlessly. You can see highlights of the game at the link below.

About Maria-Nelly Johnson:I am a Special Olympics DC Staff Member
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Unified Sports® Events


Date

Event

Location

May 19 - 21 2015

District of Columbia Summer Games

Come and cheer on our athletes during our Summer Games as they demonstrate their courage and determination over 3 days of sport competition. This event will be held on May 19-21 at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Support our athletes and experience sports in its truest form. For more details please use the contact information below.
For more information
More Details
Special Olympics District of Columbia
Phone:202-408-2640
View More

Catholic University
Washington, District of Columbia
UNITED STATES

May 21, 2015

School Unified Bocce and Track

The School Unified Bocce and Track event officially kicks off the 2015 Vermont State Summer Games (a week early) as athletes and unified partners from across Vermont will travel to BFA-St. Albans’ Collins Perley Sports Complex in St. Albans, Vermont to compete, while using bocce and track to promote our schools communities of acceptance and inclusion where all young people are agents of change.
For more information
More Details
Special Olympics Vermont
Phone:802-863-5222
View More

Collins Perley Sports Center
890 Fairfax Road

St. Albans, Vermont
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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