Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) announced that six Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® in North Carolina are receiving national banner recognition for their efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities for the 2023-2024 school year, according to SONC President/CEO Keith L. Fishburne.
The North Carolina schools below will be amongst a select number of schools nationwide to receive this distinction. They will be presented with a banner to hang in their school and recognized with other schools around the country that have achieved this distinguished status.
- Oakdale Elementary School, Mecklenburg County
- Quail Hallow Middle School, Mecklenburg County
- David W. Butler High School, Mecklenburg County
- T. Hoggard High School, New Hanover County
- J. Reynolds High School, Forsyth County
- Ashbrook High School, Gaston County
Schools are receiving this distinguished status as a result of meeting 10 national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
Unified Champion Schools is a strategy for schools, Pre-K through university, that intentionally promotes meaningful social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities to create accepting school environments, utilizing three interconnected components: Unified Sports, inclusive youth leadership and whole school engagement. As many as 19.5 million young people are taking part in inclusive experiences through Special Olympics.
Nearly 600 schools are currently participating in Unified Champion Schools programming in North Carolina, as part of 8,300 schools across the country engaged in the program. Unified Champion Schools aims to expand to 10,000 schools by the end of the 2023-2024 school year.
Unified Champion Schools model is supported by the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. This model has been proven, through research, to be an effective and replicable means to providing students with and without disabilities the opportunity to form positive social relationships and promote a socially inclusive school climate.
About Special Olympics North Carolina
Since 1968, the organization has used the transformative power of sports to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Nearly 40,000 athletes in North Carolina inspire thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers year-round training and competition in 20 Olympic-type sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Youth become agents of change through Unified Champion Schools, an education and sports-based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and create change in their community. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at www.specialolympicsnc.com. Engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.