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Fostering Social Inclusion Through Unified PE

By Larissa Kulczycky

For decades, Special Olympics has provided children and adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in year-round sports training and athletic competition. And, after 50 years, the organization has grown to include more than 5 million athletes in over 170 countries. But Special Olympics is so much more than just an international athletic competition. Every day, in more than 6,500 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® across the country, K-12 educators and students — of all abilities — demonstrate the very best of the human spirit and experience the benefits of inclusion.

Each Unified Champion School provides inclusive physical activity and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities, in addition to holding wholeschool awareness activities. The result is a school community that promotes acceptance for all.

Health and physical educators generally play an integral role at Unified Champion Schools — often serving as coach for the Special Olympics Unified Sports team — and a growing number of HPE teachers are expanding their school’s inclusive educational opportunities even further through a program called Unified Physical Education.

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