Special Olympics Unified Sports track and field teams in Wake County will have a special opportunity this weekend.
The Special Olympians will compete alongside traditional track teams in the Wake County High School Track and Field Championships on Saturday, scheduled to start at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Garner Magnet High School.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared sports experiences. Unified teams are made up of people of similar age and ability.
The Wake County school system is taking the lead in North Carolina by introducing this sports opportunity for all students in the high schools regardless of disability. Special Olympics is able to provide a model not only students with intellectual disabilities but also adaptable for students with various other disabilities. Additionally, Special Olympics North Carolina has been able to provide resources thanks to a grant provided by ESPN for this specific initiative.
Special Olympics NC athletes and Unified Sports partners competing in the county meet will represent Cary, Garner and Middle Creek. Unified Sports events at the meet will include shot put, long jump, 100 meter dash, 400 meter dash, 4×100 and 4×400 relays and the 800 meter run.
Special Olympics Project UNIFY uses Special Olympics sports and education to activate young people to become “agents of change” and create inclusive school communities– fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Unified Sports® allows people with and without intellectual disabilities to participate in sports on inclusive teams to promote social inclusion through shared sports experiences. Unified teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. Having sport in common is just one way preconceptions and false ideas about people with intellectual disabilities are swept away leading to friendships and acceptance.
Special Olympics NC and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association partnered as part of a commitment from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to encourage state member associations around the country to advance the mission and goals of both organizations nationwide. Project UNIFY is often the focus of these partnerships where Unified Sports® (people with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team together) is integrated as a sanctioned program of the state Interscholastic Athletic Association (IAA) for its member schools.
ESPN is the global presenting sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports®. ESPN is in the midst of a two-year global collaboration with Special Olympics to leverage the power of sports and promote an environment of social inclusion through the Special Olympics Unified Sports program. With a multi-million dollar financial and in-kind investment, ESPN is supporting Special Olympics’ goal of registering one million Unified Sports® participants including -athletes with intellectual disabilities, teammates without intellectual disabilities and coaches–by 2015.
About Special Olympics North Carolina
Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for nearly 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers Olympic-type competition in 19 sports on local and state levels. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at www.specialolympicsnc.com