Unified Sport

What is Unified Sport

 

What are the components of a Unified Sport Program? 

A Special Olympics athlete is an athlete with an intellectual disability; typically, someone who is interested in sport participation, is competitive, and enjoys playing on a team.

A Unified Partner athlete is an athlete without an intellectual disability; typically, someone who is interested in sport participation, is competitive, and enjoys playing on a team. 

Meaningful Competition is an important component of Unified Sport. Coaches are responsible for putting players of comparable skill together on a team and on the court in a game so that an evenly matched competition will allow opportunities for every team member to contribute. 

 

What are the benefits of Unified Sport?

A competitive environment, in which athletes from different social backgrounds compete together, has the potential to bridge perceived and real social divides.  Some research has noted that Unified Sport partners have shown significant improvements in their attitude toward individuals with disabilities as a result of playing on a Unified Sport team. Other research has cited similar conclusions about Special Olympics athletes having a heightened level of awareness of their peers without disabilities. 

The important thing to remember is that, in addition to the universally accepted personal benefits of involvement in sport and competition, Unified Sport provides social benefits for both Special Olympics athletes and Unified Sport partners. Unified Sport offers athletes the opportunity to improve upon their sport-specific skills, gain valuable competition experience, make new friends, and gain a heightened awareness of the social existence of peers facing different obstacles.

All three models, defined below, have social inclusion as the core outcome; however, the structure and function of each model vary.  

 

Division 1 - Competitive

Two things differentiate the competitive Unified Sports model from the other two models:

  1. All athletes and partners must have attained the necessary sport-specific skills and tactics to compete without modification and 
  2. Teams may be eligible for advancement to Regional and World Games

 

Division 2 – Competitive (Player Development)

Two things differentiate this Unified Sports model from the other two models:

  1. Teammates are not required to be of similar abilities
  2. Teammates of higher abilities serve as mentors to assist teammates of lower abilities in developing sport-specific skills and tactics, and in successfully participating in a cooperative team environment

 

Division 3 - Recreational

This model does not follow any prescribed training, competition, and/or team composition requirements established by Special Olympics. These recreational opportunities may take place in partnership with schools, sport clubs, and/or the community.

 

Why Unify?

The combination of students working together provides the best opportunity for creating a positive school climate, which ensures EVERY student becomes a part of the social fabric within their schools.
 
Every student now has the opportunity to become an athlete, unified partner, or student leader while creating a more inclusive environment!

The Unified Sport schedule for Saskatchewan allows for schools to be involved at various levels and to varying degrees at any time during the school year playing Unified Bocce, Cornhole, Basketball and/or Athletics. “Choose to Include” with a sport that works for your athletes, your programs, and your schools.

 

Unified Bocce 

Special Olympics athletes take the court with Unified Partner athletes to organize, practice and play indoor and/or outdoor Unified Bocce – all ages, all grades and all abilities. Indoor and outdoor Bocce sets are available for loan from Special Olympics Saskatchewan.  Play in your class, intramurals and/or organize your own competition with other schools. Watch for Special Olympics Saskatchewan Unified Sport opportunities to participate in.

Unified Cornhole

Special Olympics athletes take the court with Unified Partner athletes to organize, practice and play Unified Cornhole (bean bag toss) – all ages, all grades and all abilities. Cornhole sets are available for loan from Special Olympics Saskatchewan.  Play in your class, intramurals and/or organize your own competition with other schools. Watch for Special Olympics Saskatchewan Unified Sports opportunities to participate in.

 

Unified 3 on 3 Basketball

Teams of 6 (4 Special Olympics athletes and 2 Partner athletes) organize and play an 8 week schedule after the Family Holiday. Host your own tournament if you wish. Provincial championships are set for Saturday, May 13th, 2023, at Prince Albert Carlton Comprehensive High School.

 

Unified Athletics

Special Olympics athletes take to the track with Unified Partner athletes to participate in Unified Athletics – all ages, all grades and all abilities. Events held at Carpenter High School in Meadow Lake, E.D. Feehan Catholic High School in Saskatoon, and in Regina - TBA.

 

Unified Curling and Badminton

Special Olympics athletes take to the ice or court with Unified Partner athletes to organize, practice and play. There are no schedules or divisions.  This is an opportunity to benefit from Unified Sport while enjoying the sport of curling and/or badminton.  Any athlete, team, club, and/or school interested in playing Unified Curling and/or Badminton, please contact Special Olympics Saskatchewan’s Youth Coordinator, Chris Hamilton, for more information.

 

 

 

 

Unified Sports Dates

Unified Sports Kick-Off Camps

Training and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. Spend 4 hours together with other schools to celebrate authentic inclusion - start your year off on a winning note with a championship Unified experience! Click the links below to register:

 

Basketball:

 

Contact Information

Christ Hamilton, Special Olympics Saskatchewan Youth Coordinator

Phone: 306-780-9401

Email: chamilton@specialolympics.sk.ca

 

For more information on Unified Sport, please visit our Unified Resources.