A Future of Unified Sports Teams: I’m Excited!
Until recently I was under the impression that the Special Olympics was an event– namely the World Games– that takes place only once every four years. Instead I have come to learn that the organization works tirelessly year-round to provide training and competition opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities.
One area of particular focus and growth for the Special Olympics is Unified Sports Teams, which are sports teams that are composed equally of athletes with intellectual differences as well as those without. So, you can find soccer teams, golf teams, track & field relay teams, volleyball teams (to name a few examples) where an athlete with special needs is playing side-by-side with a fellow team member who does not have a disability.
More exciting is that I learned that some states are beginning to adopt laws that mandate that schools create unified sport teams at the high school level, not just boys sports and girls sports teams. Tim Shriver, the CEO of the Special Olympics tells me that he is eagerly trying to start unified sports teams all over the country:
We don’t think there is a lesson more important to learn than how to overcome a fear of difference. So we need parents to recognize that participation in a program like Special Olympics is not just for those other kids. It isn’t just for kids with disabilities. It isn’t just for kids with an intellectual challenge. It’s for every kid. And in some ways I think the benefit is greater for kids who don’t have disabilities than for those who do.
I couldn’t agree more.
Envisioning a future world with unified sports teams found at every school in the United States gives me goosebumps. I can’t think of a better way for our kids to learn about others and themselves.
An exciting piece of news is that I get go to Athens, as a guest of P&G, to watch some of the World Games. When I’m there I’m extra excited to see first-hand a unified sports team in action.
Does your school have unified sports teams? I’m excited to learn more.
This post has been sponsored by Procter & Gamble as part of their Thank You, Mom program. For every new “like,” fan or comment (showing support to the Special Olympic athletes) on the Thank You, Mom Facebook page, P&G will donate an additional $1 to support Special Olympics Team USA’s journey to the Athens games. They are donating up to an additional quarter of a million dollars. Now, if I could personally leave 10,000 comments everyday, I would, but I can’t so I’m asking you guys to do so because there is a fantastic organization ready and willing to write a check for your support. All opinions are my own and I think P&G is the bee’s knees for supporting the Special Olympics. You get a gold medal from me P&G.