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Students at Bend High School in Oregon, U.S. prior to the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® banner award presentation for meeting the 10 standards of excellence in inclusion
Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools

Nearly 6,500 U.S. schools participated in the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® (SOUCS) program in 2018. These Pre-K through university schools intentionally promoted meaningful social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities to create accepting school environments.

Participating Schools

  • Unified Champions School could be found in 2,103 districts in 48 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • National banner status was reached by 221 schools across the country through the SOUCS National School Recognition Program. These schools demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence.
  • There are three interconnected components of SOUCS: Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement. 56% of SOUCS offered all three components and 68% of SOUCS offered at least two components

Participating Students

Approximately 272,000 students participated in 8.3 million Unified Champion Schools experiences. Unified Sports in schools, including the inclusive Young Athletes Program, Unified Sports competitive, Unified Sports player development and Unified sports recreation, have resulted in:

  • 112,000 athlete (student with an intellectual disability) experiences
  • 159,814 partner (student without an intellectual disability) experiences
  • 147,000 youth leadership experiences

Youth Leadership Experience

The first ever Youth Leadership Experience took place at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington, with a youth pair and adult mentor participating from 38 U.S. Programs. During the course of the Games, the participants gained truly immersive Special Olympics experiences through various volunteer roles.