Special Olympics North Carolina announced that the following Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools are receiving national banner recognition for their efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities.
- Ballantine Elementary School, Wake County
- David W. Butler High School, Mecklenburg County
- Davis-Townsend Elementary School, Davidson County
- East Garner Magnet Middle School, Wake County
- Forest City-Dunbar Elementary School, Rutherford County
- Gray’s Creek High School, Cumberland County
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
These schools are receiving this honor as a result of meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect. An award presentation will take place at the schools throughout the school year, according to SONC President/CEO Keith L. Fishburne.
These North Carolina schools will be amongst a select number of schools to receive this distinction. They will be presented with a banner to hang in their school and be included on a list of other schools around the country who have achieved this distinguished status.
Nearly 400 schools are currently participating in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming in North Carolina, as part of more than 6,500 schools across the country engaged in the program. Special Olympics has a global goal of creating 10,000 Unified Champion Schools by 2020.
The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® model is supported by the U.S. 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*. Key data points include:
- 84% of students regard participation in the program as a turning point in their lives.
- 72% of involved teachers believe participation in the program has increased the confidence of students with disabilities.
- 88% credit the program with reducing bullying and teasing in their schools.
A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement, and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. National banner schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.
*Evaluation conducted by the Center for Social Development and Education (CSDE) at the University of Massachusetts Boston
About Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools®
Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® is a program 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: Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement.
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 19 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.