What is Unified Sport
Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for all. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away.
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:
- All athletes and partners must have attained the necessary sport-specific skills and tactics to compete without modification and
- 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:
- Teammates are not required to be of similar abilities
- 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.
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.
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 classroom, at intramurals, or organize your own competition with other schools. Watch for Special Olympics Saskatchewan Unified Sport opportunities to participate in.
Bocce Tournament Kick-Offs:
For all dates, the tournament will be starting at 10:00am and finishing at 2:00pm, with an official schedule of the day being sent out a few days before the tournament. Lunch will not be provided, so make sure to pack a lunch. To register, click here!
- Saskatoon (October 11th, 2023)
- Saskatoon Sport Centre - Kavia Half Field (150 Nelson Road)
- Registration deadline - September 29th, 2023
- Prince Albert (October 12th, 2023)
- Alfred Jenkins Field House (2787 10th Ave W)
- Registration deadline - September 29th, 2023
- Regina (October 17th, 2023)
- AffinityPlex Turf (1700 Elphinstone St.)
- Registration deadline - October 2nd, 2023
For any questions, please contact Youth & Health Coordinator, Haley McGrath, at email@example.com
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 Sports Invitational - Competitions
- More info to come