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Project Unify

Building Stronger School Communities
Project Unify

Project UNIFY is an education-based program that uses the sports and education initiatives of Special Olympics to activate youth to promote school communities where all young people are agents of change – fostering respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Problem
Young students face many challenges today, from achieving personal and academic success to feeling emotionally and physically healthy and safe. These challenges are compounded for some students due to the presence of an intellectual disability. Although progress has been made by many educational systems in promoting the physical and instructional inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities, there are still staggering social challenges for these students that compromise their social and emotional well-being. Students with intellectual disabilities experience negative attitudes from their peers, social isolation, and rejection, and even victimization in the form of bullying.

The Intervention
Special Olympics Project UNIFY is built upon the premise that in order to have the greatest impact the change needs to start with young people. Project UNIFY brings youth with and without intellectual disabilities together through education, sports, and related initiatives that provide them with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to create and sustain communities that pro-mote acceptance, respect, and human dignity for all students.

How we do this is by working with our elementary, middle, and high schools to implement or continue the three major initiatives of Project UNIFY.

Ballard Unified Basketball Team
Ballard High School won the upper
division of the 2013 Louisville Unified
Basketball League.


Youth Leadership/Advocacy:

  • Partner/Buddy Clubs: Newly formed clubs or an existing school club or team which plan/carry out activities for/with Special Olympics athletes.
  • Youth Volunteers: Students volunteering with the local Special Olympics program during competition and other events.
  • Special Olympics Fundraisers: Youth organized fundraising events such as a “Hat Day” or participation in a scheduled Special Olympics fundraiser such as a Polar Plunge or 5K Run/Walk.

School-wide Activities:

  • Spread the Word Day
    School-based Spread the Word to End the Word events are a great way to build a stronger school community.
    Get Into It: Free skill-based activities, games, worksheets, and more resources endorsed by the Department of Education for use in general education classrooms to educate, motivate and activate young people to be agents of respect, advocacy, and acceptance of all people, with and without disabilities.
  • Spread the Word to End the Word: Campaign to encourage acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities and educate students about not using the R Word (Retard/Retarded) through activities such as pledge drives and other school activities.
    Youth Rally or Assembly: Supporting R-Word events, Awareness Campaigns, or the athletes competing in Special Olympics.


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Revised Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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