Help us make a difference!


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


June 25, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Turkey

Families stand behind Unified School Program in Turkey

By Özge Özkan

Sabahat Demirtaş (l) and Tuncay Demirtaş (right) and their daughter Buket.

Parents are weighing in on the value of the Unified Schools Program in Turkey. Muradiye Akalar is the mother of twins Aral and Ural, aged 4, who participate in inclusive equestrian activities in Samsun on the north coast of Turkey. “I don’t want people to look at my children in a different way."View Story Parents are weighing in on the value of the Unified Schools Program in Turkey. Muradiye Akalar is the mother of twins Aral and Ural, aged 4, who participate in inclusive equestrian activities in Samsun on the north coast of Turkey. “I don’t want people to look at my children in a different way. Through this program, all children, with and without disabilities, share the same environment. This has helped me and my children become more confident.” Sabahat Demirtaş and Tuncay Demirtaş, also from Samsun, can see the impact of the program on their daughter, Buket, aged 28, a swimmer. “Buket feels free and happy in the water and it is good to see her make new friends and gain confidence when she interacts with Unified partners,” said her mother Sabahat. The Unified Schools Program, supported by the Sabanci Foundation, involves 800 children and youths from schools, clubs and universities who participate in inclusive sport, education and volunteering activities.

About Özge Özkan :Özge Özkan is involved in community impact initiatives in Special Olympics Turkey including Youth and Schools and Healthy Athletes.
Share
View less ▲

June 23, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Turkey

Unified Schools Program in Turkey adds value to volunteer's life

By Özge Özkan

First-time volunteer Leylanur Taç.

Since 1 October 2014 Special Olympics Turkey has been running a Unified Schools Program with the support of the Sabanci Foundation. Through the program, 800 children and youth are participating in inclusive sport, education and volunteering activities.View Story Since 1 October 2014 Special Olympics Turkey has been running a Unified Schools Program with the support of the Sabanci Foundation. Through the program, 800 children and youth aged 9 to 25, from more than 15 mainstream schools, special education centers, local sports clubs and universities are participating in inclusive sport, education and volunteering activities. One of the new volunteers is Leylanur Taç, a 20-year-old first-year student at Ondokuz Mayıs University Physical Education and Sports Teacher College in Sansun, Black Sea port city. Taç thinks the program is a unique opportunity that interests her intellectually and emotionally. “I am willing to participate in all activities that help persons with intellectual disabilities gain acceptance in public. I am happy to be a volunteer and feel I have gained a lot from being involved in the program. Now, adapted physical education is an area of study I would consider studying in the future.”

About Özge Özkan :Özge Özkan is involved in community impact initiatives within Special Olympics Turkey, including Youth and Schools and Healthy Athletes.
Share
View less ▲

June 23, 2015 | Europe Eurasia: Turkey

'We are a happy family'

By Serkan Ovatman

Fatma Ulku Koseoglu, her daughter Kubra and son Ahmet,who plays on an inclusive sports team in Kayseri, Turkey.

The inclusive inclusive sports project in Turkey funded by the King Baudouin Foundation is getting a thumbs up from parents who see their children flourish on Unified Recreation football teams.View Story The inclusive inclusive sports project in Turkey funded by the King Baudouin Foundation is getting a thumbs up from parents who see their children flourish on Unified Recreation football teams. Six hundred children, between 8 and 12, are playing on Unified teams during the 18-month project that is also supported by the Turkish Football Association. Families reported that their children with intellectual disabilities were happier and had an activity that they looked forward to participating in every week. For example, Fatma Ulku Koseoglu, from Kayseri, whose son Ahmet, age 12, is an athlete, said: “Ahmet preferred staying at home and watching TV. He did not want to go to school or play with other children. Once he joined the Unified team, it changed his life. Now, he enjoys being part of the team, attending training, making friends and being active. We are a happy family because of this project.” Ahmet’s sister, Kubra, age 6, likes to come with her mother to watch her brother play.

About Serkan Ovatman:Serkan Ovatman is the sports director assistant, Special Olympics Turkey, and national coordinator of the inclusive sports project funded by the King Baudouin Foundation and supported by the Turkish Football Association.
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

August 13, 2015

Unified Sports Golf Tournament

Join us August 13th in Douglas, Wyoming as our athletes compete and show their skill in golf 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
More Details
Special Olympics Wyoming
Phone:307-235-3062
View More


Douglas, Wyoming
UNITED STATES

September 08, 2015

Unified 9-Hole Golf Tournament

Join us September 8th at Lakewood Golf Course in Madison, Maine as our athletes compete and show their skill in Unified golf 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
More Details
Special Olympics Maine
Phone:207-879-0489
View More

Lakewood Golf Course
Madison, Maine
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