Other than family members, there are few people who are closer than teammates. Somehow, their common pursuit against the odds, that shared moment of victory or defeat, brings even the most diverse people together.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® combines people with intellectual disabilities (traditional Special Olympics athletes) and without intellectual disabilities (called partners) on sports teams for training and competition. In Virginia, Unified Sports® programs are offered in soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, golf and bowling.
Using sports to help break down barriers that have historically kept people apart, Unified Sports® promotes meaningful inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities in the community. In fact, 93% of partners say they gained a better understanding of their teammates through Unified Sports®.
Unified Sports® is particularly successful in school settings, creating an inclusive environment where everyone benefits. Special education students experience new social opportunities and make new friends they may not have otherwise. Their non-disabled peers learn valuable lessons of character development and may serve as mentors. Many parents and siblings also find that Unified Sports® offers a new way to spend time together and meet other families.
Unified Sports® is for anyone who enjoys competition, fun and friendship. To get involved, contact your Region Director for details on opportunities in your area. If you are unsure how to contact your Region Director, view our statewide map
for contact information.
Watch this video to learn more and see Unified Sports® in action!