The Special Olympics Maine Unified Champion Clubs, a program in partnership with the Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation, is dedicated to promoting social inclusion by joining people with and without intellectual disabilities through shared inclusive recreational sports and activities. A simple principal that playing and competing together creates a quick path to friendships and understanding. The program serves as an extension of the Special Olympics Maine’s Unified Champion Schools program which aims at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change (PK-College). With sports as the foundation, the three component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip  people with tools and training to create sports and community climates of acceptance. These are community climates where people with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.

This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive leadership opportunities, and community engagement. The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the community organization/partner (ie YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, Parks & Recreation depts.), enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive community that supports and engages all people. What a Unified Champion Club “looks like” can vary greatly from community organization/partner to community organization/partner, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each community organization/partner; but the basic building blocks remain the same.

Together we are creating a Unified Generation that Chooses to Include. Join us.

3 Components of Unified Champion Clubs

  1. Unified Sports®Unified Sports join individuals 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 inclusion. In the context of a Unified Champion Club, Unified partners are community members without intellectual disabilities playing with athletes, individuals with intellectual disabilities, on an equal playing field. At the organization, Unified sports function as recreational activities and is treated like any other program that the organization offers. Click here for more information Unified Sports.
  2. Inclusive LeadershipInclusive leadership invites community members with and without intellectual disabilities athletes to fulfill meaningful roles and lead together in their Unified Champion Club program, the community and within the community organization/partner. A Unified Champion Club serves as a community-led club at the organization, where participants meet once a month to plan events. This club includes athletes and community members and or partners working collaboratively and as equals. The club works to achieve the main components of the Unified Champion Clubs: Unified Sports, Inclusive Leadership, and Whole Club Engagement.
  3. Whole Club EngagementAcceptance and Inclusion Campaigns bring the whole organization and community together. Pledge signing drives, like Special Olympics Spread the Word >> Inclusion, and rallies for respect can engage the staff, members of the organization, the community and program participants. All staff can be “fans in the stands” at recreational sports, cheering on the participants. Whole Club Engagement is a great entry point to introduce more staff and members to the inclusion movement and encourage participation in the Inclusion Revolution.

Find a Unified Champion Club near You

Interested in learning more about how to start a Unified Champion Clubs program in your community?  Contact Sawyer Boulette

Unified Champion Club Resources

  • Unified Champion Clubs Starter Guide – coming soon!
  • Unified Champion Clubs Grant Application – Applications will be accepted until April 1, 2024 or until funding is exhausted. Please review the application questions and draft responses prior to starting the application. Once the application has been started it will need to be completed/submitted at the same time; there is no way to save or re-enter at a later time. Once an application is submitted the Community Organization will receive an email notification with the contents of their submitted application.

Click here to complete the Special Olympics Maine Unified Champion Clubs Funding Application

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