AKRON — Following months of Unified Champion Schools training and curricula, local Mentone Elementary, Akron Elementary and Tippecanoe Valley Middle School students will take part in an inclusive sporting event Monday, May 20..
Special Olympics Indiana and Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation are working together this school year to engage students in activities designed to promote school communities where young people are agents of change — fostering respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.
Through this program, known as Unified Champion Schools, children of all abilities are provided opportunities to develop self-confidence and social skills while learning the fundamentals necessary for future participation in Unified Sports training and competition.
Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation is among hundreds of preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools across the state to embrace Special Olympics’ innovative approach to improving social inclusion while simultaneously developing motor skills through curricula which aligns with Indiana State educational standards. More than 10,000 Indiana students have participated in the program during the 2017-2018 school year.
The annual culmination of all Unified Champion Schools programs is one or more Unified Game Day, held each spring and featuring a Special Olympics-style competition in a variety of unified track and field events. Tippecanoe Valley will host its Game Day Monday, May 20 at the Tippecanoe Valley High School track.
“Indiana has been recognized as a national leader in the realm of Special Olympics’ Unified Sports® and social inclusion initiatives, and it’s thanks in large part to the support of faculty, administrators, and students in hundreds of schools throughout the state,” said Special Olympics Indiana President and CEO Jeff Mohler. “The Special Olympics movement is still about sports—but it’s also about changing the way the world sees people with intellectual disabilities by targeting younger generations through programs like Unified Champion Schools.”
More than 100 students in Tippecanoe Valley in grades Kindergarten through eighth are expected to participate in the May 20 Game Day, beginning at 9:30 am. Parents and supporters are invited to attend the event, which also will include an opening ceremony.
Special Olympics Indiana’s Unified Champion Schools initiatives are supported in part by the Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education (ICASE), the Indiana Middle Level Education Association and — through a partnership known as Champions Together — the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA).
Learn more about Unified Champion Schools by visiting www.specialolympics.org/unified-champion-schools. For more information about the implementation of these programs in Indiana schools, contact state Director of Unified Champion Schools Mark Booth at [email protected].