WIAA | Washington Interscholastic Activities Association
May 20, 2013
SUBJECT: UNIFIED SPORTS
As you know, the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights recently sent a notification to schools with guidance regarding the law requiring that athletic activities be available for students with disabilities. The guidance indicates that Unified Sports® can be a good solution.
The WIAA and Special Olympics Washington have been working closely together this spring and we look forward to working with you soon to develop Unified Sports® state-wide in the coming year. Unified Sports® is an inclusive Special Olympics sports program that combines athletes with and without intellectual disabilities in training and competition. As an example on a 5 aside soccer team, there will be 3 Special Olympics athletes and 2 “partners” (students without disabilities).
Unified Sports® provides additional opportunities for all students to be involved. Research has shown and we have demonstrated that the program provides an atmosphere of acceptance, respect and dignity; all factors that reduce bullying. This program impacts the whole school including administrators, staff and students and has the ability to change school climate.
Representatives from Special Olympics will be attending the fall workshops in August/September to introduce Unified Sports® and to layout the opportunities planned for the school year. School districts are encouraged to explore appointing a Unified Sports® coordinator to examine participation needs, poll student interest, and possibly lead the program in schools. Special Olympics will train you and your identified coordinator through a series of in-person meetings, on-line training, conference calls and webinars. Special Olympics offer financial incentives for districts and schools that join the program.
Please direct any questions that you may have to Brian Smith, Assistant Executive Director – WIAA at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joe Hampson, Vice President of Athlete Development – Special Olympics Washington at email@example.com. We will now be communicating regularly with you on this project.
We are committed to the vision that everyone deserves a chance to play and we hope you are too. This is an exciting time and we are eager to work closely with you and your team to activate a school environment where youth are agents of change.
Mike Colbrese Beth Wojick
Executive Director President & CEO
WIAA Special Olympics Washington