Special Olympics Maryland is committed to the growth and development of interactive inclusive school programming throughout the state. ALL students should feel like there is a place for them within their own learning environment. Unified Champion Schools help to provide opportunities for students of all ages and abilities to experience inclusion at their own school through programs such as Unified Sports/Activities, Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole School Engagement. Let us help you create a school environment where opportunity is not limited by disability.
Unified Sports & Activities
Unified Sports provides a means which brings together students with and without disabilities in a fulfilling inclusive experience. Unified Sports teams are composed of a proportional number of students with intellectual disabilities, with other types of disabilities, and without disabilities who train and compete together on the same team.
Schools are encouraged to form teams to participate in the SONA Move Challenge. During this 8-week challenge, students of all abilities will track minutes of intentional physical activity and exercise. By participating in individual and (safe) group exercise, students will compete against other teams throughout the state and across the country! Click here to download an overview flyer.
Inclusive Youth Leadership
Inclusive youth leadership is when young people of all abilities are given opportunities to be leaders in their schools and communities. These leadership activities help students find their voices and teach them to become change agents in their communities by promoting equity and acceptance. Social inclusion is best fostered when activities within the classroom, school, and community are designed and implemented by a diverse group of students within a school. A socially inclusive school ensures every student is given an opportunity to contribute due to the unique skills and qualities they bring to the work.
Whole School Engagement
Whole School Engagement activities positively impact school climate by including all students, teachers, staff, administrators. An inclusive school climate that fosters understanding and respect for all can influence how students think and act within and beyond the school. School-wide opportunities focused on social inclusion raise awareness and create an educational environment where respect and acceptance are the norm and all students feel included and engaged.
See our Whole School Engagement opportunities below!
The Maryland Recognition Program
The Maryland Recognition Program promotes servant leadership among students with and without disabilities while changing their lives as individuals and valued members of their school community. The Maryland Recognition Program recognizes schools that have proven proficiency and “live Unified” by appreciating every member of their community and affording each student the opportunity to be meaningfully involved and contribute. The Maryland Recognition Program is an accolade designed to highlight and congratulate those who make Unified Champion Schools the standard that is embedded in the fabric of their school’s culture.
Make Your Pledge for Inclusion
Be a teammate. Be a friend. Welcome someone who has been left out. Sit next to someone alone at lunch. Say hello to someone in the hallway. There are so many ways to spread inclusion. Choose yours. Make a pledge and start today. Join us to make inclusion a reality for all people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Make your pledge below.
As a lifelong educator and an advocate for all children, it is a testament to a lifelong commitment to help children see the world around them as a place where everyone is valued.
Administrator, Twin Ridge Elementary
It benefits ALL students involved. Friendships are created, empathy is increased and differences are appreciated. It is the RIGHT thing to do!
Staff, Anne Arundel County Public Schools
I choose inclusion because no one deserves to feel out of place or inferior to others. Well are all better off when everyone can participate meaningfully in the community!!
Student, Crofton High School
To work together and be a team. So kids can know they are wanted and to spread positivity and love were it is most needed.
Student, Old Mill High School
I think its a good way to learn about the people around you.
Student, Linganore High School
Everyone has a unique gift. We are a stronger, kinder, and happier community when those gifts are welcomed and shared.
Staff, Catoctin High School
I have Down Syndrome and I like to be included so I want to include others too! It makes me happy!
Student, Chesapeake High School
We are excited to officially open our Special Olympics Maryland Unified Champion Schools online merchandise store. Now you can show your pride and purchase a variety of merchandise at reasonable prices. Whether you are a fan in the stands, a volunteer, an athlete, unified partner or a family member, there is something for everyone in our store. We'll be adding more merchandise so be sure to check back!”