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Students with and without intellectual disabilities participated in the Interscholastic Unified Bocce State Championships prior to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Boy’s and Girl’s state basketball championships on Friday, March 24, 2017. Competition took place from 9:00am – 11am at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. A total of 8 high schools, who are a part of the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Interscholastic Unified Sports® program, competed from 7 counties (Allegheny, Beaver, Dauphin, Delaware, Mercer, Montgomery and Philadelphia) to culminate their unified bocce season.  Pictured above and below Elizabeth Forward High School and Rochester High School.

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The high schools that participated in the 2017 Unified Bocce Championship include:

Prior to competition, an Opening Ceremony was held that began with a Unified Sports Exhibition. Two teams each rolled one frame for the chance to have their school accompany the “Flame of Hope” into the venue and declare the competition officially open. Team 1 showcased the skills of representatives from the PIAA and Souderton High School; while, Team 2 featured a representative from Special Education, SOPA Board Chair John Verbanic, and Strath Haven High School.  Team 1 received the right to accompany the “Flame of Hope” in to start the games alongside Officer Jana Klinger from the Derry Township Police (Pictured below).

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Special Olympics Pennsylvania Interscholastic Unified Sports® (IUS) is a fully-inclusive co-ed high school sports program that brings together a proportional number of students with and without disabilities on teams for training and competition. This winter, there were 48 high schools throughout the state which competed in Unified Indoor Bocce. Both the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education and the PIAA endorse IUS and have been working collaboratively with SOPA to promote these programs to schools.

Congratulation to all of our competing athletes, especially Elizabeth Forward and Rochester High School for their gold medal wins!

Click here to view event images.