Unified Champion Schools

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance.

Special Olympics Kansas partners with elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges to implement the three main components of the Unified Champion Schools® model. These components are:

Unified Sports

Unified Sports gives students with and without intellectual disabilities opportunities to participate in sports activities alongside one another. Sports activities include Young Athletes, which teaches beginning sports skills to younger students, as well as Inclusive Physical Education classes and Unified Sports during the school day.

Visit our Unified Sports page to find out more

Growth of Unified Sports Continues Across Country – Article from National Federation of State High School Associations

Inclusive Youth Leadership

Inclusive Youth Leadership provides students with and without intellectual disabilities opportunities to take on leadership roles in promoting their Unified Sports activities in their school and their community.

Youth Leadership Guide


  • Unified Club – Establish a new club or merge with an existing club. Collaborate with other clubs and student organizations to increase inclusive offerings. The club is a social inclusive club, not just a sports club.
  • Lunch-mates – Create opportunities for students with and without disabilities to share lunch. Try Shake it Up Friday where everyone sits with someone they have not met before.
  • Peer Partners/Pals – Create opportunities for students without disabilities to be partners in other elective classes and clubs.
  • Trainings – Hold meetings for students who run other clubs on how to be more inclusive.
  • Events and Fundraisers – Get the whole school involved in the Polar Plunge or a fundraiser or unified activity during lunch or on a test day. Set a goal of how many students you’d like to get involved and how much money you need to raise – involve the PTA and community.
  • Faculty or school board meetings – Present on inclusive leadership and ways you think you can help make your school more socially inclusive.

Whole School Engagement

Whole School Engagement encourages students to engage in the Unified Sports experience through school-wide activities such as disability awareness campaigns like pep rallies or Autism Awareness and Spread the Word to End the Word campaigns. There are many options, here are three popular ones:

The “Spread the Word to End the Word®” Campaign

A grassroots effort to educate people around the world, including the entertainment industry, about hurtful language and advocate for them to stop using the “R-word” (“retard” and comparable words in different cultures). The campaign targets students through school events and social networking, inviting them to sign an online pledge, and spread the word on their campuses. To date, more than 400,000 people have taken the online pledge while millions have signed petitions, banners and taken oaths around the world to stop hurtful language and banish prejudices.

Awareness Day or Week

School hosts multiple activities and/or days focused on raising awareness around intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics, Unified Sports, Respect Campaigns and the Unified Champion School message as a whole.

Fans in the Stands

Students organize a pep rally (or add on to an existing rally) designed to draw attention to an upcoming Interscholastic Unified Sports competition.


Get Started

If you would like to find out how to become a Unified Champion School, please reach out to Chris Burt at or 913-236-9290 x107.

Funding OpportunitiesSchools can receive funding support for Unified Sports teams (including uniforms, equipment, transportation, and coaches stipends), club activities, and whole school involvement events.

Ready to become a Unified Champion School? Schools can sign the agreement for the 2018-2019 school year here: UCS Agreement


If your school is not currently participating, start your own program!  Download our start-up guide to learn more: Unified Sports – Student Guide

Unified Sports School Administrators recruitment video: The video provides elementary, middle and high school administrators an overview of Unified Sports, including the benefits a Unified Champion School can bring to their students and school community.

SOKS Unified Champion School and Young Athlete Program Participation Report

Young Athletes in Unified Champion Schools – Overview of using the YA Activity Guide in Unified Champions Schools for US Programs.

Elementary School Playbook – This resource will give you many tips and resources to make your elementary school socially inclusive.

Middle School Playbook – This resource will give you many tips and resources to make your middle school socially inclusive.

High School Playbook – This resource will give you many tips and resources to make your school socially inclusive.

National Banner Recognition – A National Banner Unified Champion School is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence.

Need help? Contact Chris Burt at or 913-236-9290 x107