Special Olympics Unified Sport® promotes inclusion through bringing together people with intellectual disabilities (known as athletes) and people without (known as unified partners), to train and compete on the same teams and in the same competitions.
Unified Sports participants can improve their physical fitness, sharpen their skills, challenge themselves through competition and have fun whilst participating in a variety of sports, ranging from football to basketball to tennis.
Unified Sports enables athletes to:
- Learn new sports
- Develop higher-level sports skills
- Have new competition experiences
- Experience meaningful inclusion as each athlete is assured of playing a valued role on the team
- Socialise with peers and make new friends (the programme provides a forum for positive social interaction between teammates and often leads to long-lasting friendships)
- Participate in their communities and have choices outside of Special Olympics (Unified Sports programmes are often initiated by community partners, including parks and recreation organisations, schools, colleges, sports clubs and community sports organisations. These partnerships help further include athletes into their wider communities)