Unified Champion Schools® Work Proven to Increase Inclusion
Special Olympics’ work in schools has been statistically proven to increase inclusion & improve whole school communities for millions of young people with & without intellectual disabilities.
- 92% of teachers/school staff observed increased opportunities for students with and without disabilities to work together.
- In 2017, 5,000 schools and 3.6 million young people participated in inclusive school activities in the United States.
- Almost 80% of students (79%) who got to know a student with a disability through Unified Champion Schools® considered this person to be their friend.
- Children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their peers without disabilities.
Special Olympics Indiana is among the leading accredited programs in the implementation of these programs, headlined at the high school level by our groundbreaking Champions Together partnership with the IHSAA and supported by the Indiana Middle Level Education Association (IMLEA) and the Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education (ICASE).
Since establishing these programs during the 2012-2013 school year, we have worked to engage students of all abilities and backgrounds in inclusive school activities and Unified Sports®.
As of today, we are reaching:
- Approximately 262,000 students at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels, a number representing 23% of all students in Indiana.
- All 410 IHSAA member schools and a total of 610 schools at all levels, meaning that Indiana accounts for more than 10% of the 5,000+ schools that are involved nationwide.
Special Olympics Indiana’s Champions Together and Unified Champion Schools® programs are supported each year by a grant disbursed by Special Olympics International and are funded at the national level by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs. Please see Special Olympics’ official statement below in response to recently proposed budgetary cuts that would impact these programs.
Special Olympics is a nonpartisan organization that strongly supports policies, legislation and practices that guarantee the rights, full participation, and integration of people with intellectual disabilities (ID).
Special Olympics recognizes the progress that has been made around the country in eliminating the stigma, stereotypes, isolation, and discrimination that people with intellectual disabilities face – most importantly around access to sport, health, and education opportunities and services. We ask federal, state and local governments to join Special Olympics in remaining vigilant against any erosion of provisions that have made a substantial difference in the lives of people with ID.
As is the case each year after the President presents his budget to Congress, we engage in opportunities, such as our annual Capitol Hill Day activities, to educate lawmakers about why grant funding for our health and education programming is critical to protecting and increasing access to these services for people with intellectual disabilities.
We look forward to continuing to raise awareness among U.S. government officials about the important work that Special Olympics is doing in the United States and around the world.