Special Olympics Unified Sports® creates an opportunity for people without intellectual disabilities to join in the sports experience by playing on a team with athletes with intellectual disabilities. Not only do the players all have fun, but attitude change and transformation happens on the playing field and the experiences create lifelong friendships.
Unified Sports® combines approximately equal numbers of Special Olympics Athletes and athletes without intellectual disabilities (called Partners) on sports teams for training and competition. Age and ability matching of athletes and partners is defined on a sport-by-sport basis.
The concept of combining athletes with intellectual disabilities and those without was first introduced in the mid-1980s to provide another level of challenge for higher ability athletes and to promote equality and inclusion. Check out our Unified Sports One Page Snapshot.
Unified Sports® enables Special Olympics athletes to:
Learn new sports
Develop higher-level sports skills
Have new competition experiences
Experience meaningful inclusion (each athlete is ensured of playing a valued role on the team)
Socialize with peers and form friendships
Participate in their communities leading to choices outside of Special Olympics
Special Olympics Unified Sports®
If you are interested in the unique opportunity to become a Unified Partner, please follow the normal steps involved in becoming a volunteer by contacting the local Program nearest to you. When you are contacted by the appropriate Special Olympics Pennsylvania staff or volunteer, just mention your specific interest in Unified Sports®. Learn more about our Unified Sports Procedures (roster, divisioning, and awarding).
What is Interscholastic Unified Sports?
Special Olympics Pennsylvania Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS) is a fully-inclusive co-ed high school sports program which successfully facilitates social inclusion by bringing together a proportional number of students with and without intellectual disabilities on teams for training and competition. Click here to learn more!