Special Olympics Unified Sport® promotes inclusion through bringing together people with intellectual disabilities (known as athletes) and people without (known as unified partners), to train and compete on the same teams and in the same competitions.
Unified Sports participants can improve their physical fitness, sharpen their skills, challenge themselves through competition and have fun whilst participating in a variety of sports, ranging from football to basketball to tennis.
The growth of the Unified Sports programme in 2012 forms part of the long-term partnership between Coca-Cola Great Britain and Special Olympics GB, which aims to make a range of sports more accessible for people with intellectual (learning) disabilities, empowering them and their families to take an active and more confident role in their communities.
The Unified Sports project is bringing together 80 schools (both special schools and secondary mainstream schools) to work collaboratively in order to deliver school-based Unified Sports programmes. Unified Sports will be supported by Thierry Henry’s One4ALL Foundation.
Unified Sports enables athletes to:
- Learn new sports
- Develop higher-level sports skills
- Have new competition experiences
- Experience meaningful inclusion as each athlete is assured of playing a valued role on the team
- Socialise with peers and make new friends (the programme provides a forum for positive social interaction between teammates and often leads to long-lasting friendships)
- Participate in their communities and have choices outside of Special Olympics (Unified Sports programmes are often initiated by community partners, including parks and recreation organisations, schools, colleges, sports clubs and community sports organisations. These partnerships help further include athletes into their wider communities)