Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools is an education and sports based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities, while creating communities of acceptance for all

Unified Champion Schools uses sports to develop school communities where youth are agents of change - fostering respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

Through the opportunities below, we are collaborating with school systems across Maine to meet individual schools’ strategic goals. Together, we can create more inclusive attitudes, develop physical fitness, promote community service, and build character in young people.

Unified Sports®— students compete on teams comprised of approximately equal numbers of students with and without intellectual disabilities.

Youth Leadership & Advocacy— an inclusive student-led leadership team, known as a Unified Youth Council, organizes and promotes Unified Schools events to spark awareness and showcase new friendships. Organizing events could include “R-word” campaign and promoting Unified Sports involvement.

Whole School Engagement – when an entire school accepts and includes students and others with intellectual disabilities, it is a powerful community of change. Events could include an “R-Word” campaign, activating the Get Into It® curriculum or Fans in the Stands.

To get started, contact Ian at IanF@somaine.org. For additional Unified Schools resources, check out the links below.

UnifiedGeneric_Ball_FB_Profile Unified Sports® - Unified Sports partners students with intellectual disabilities with students without intellectual disabilities to train, compete and represent your school in team sports.  Special education teachers have reported the program to be extremely effective at impacting youth, promoting physical activity and inspiring leadership. One teacher reported: “I’ve seen more interaction on the field today between classmates than I’ve seen in my classroom all year.” There are three ways to participate in unified sports:

Special Olympics Maine will host, local & state level, 1 day competitions/tournaments throughout the year in the following sports: Athletics, Aquatics, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling (10 pin & Candlepin), Golf & Soccer.  Check out our state and local events calendar on our website, www.somaine.org, for more information.

The Maine Principals' Association and SOMaine created a partnership to offer Unified Sports opportunities for High School students to participate in.  

In-School participation through Unified PE classes or Recreational Unified Sport opportunities during or after school.  Click here to view the Unified Champion Schools Physical Education Resource guide

Check out the "Students Guide to Starting a Unified Sports Program in your School" to help establish a Unified Sports program in your school.

Unified Youth Council/Partners Club - a group of students with and without intellectual disabilities that meet on a regular basis to provide leadership, awareness and social opportunities in their school community.  A Unified Youth Council is encouraged to organize and execute school wide events such as a Respect campaign, Spread the Word to End the Word (R-word) Campaign and/or encourage students to be "Fans in the Stands" at Unified Sports and/or Special Olympics Maine events.  For more information on Inclusive Youth Leadership and what types of activities/events can be planned click on the link below.

Whole School Engagement - providing awareness opportunities, organized and executed by students, to the entire school community through, but not limited to, campaigns, rallies along with hosting SOMaine & Unified Sports events at your school.

  • Spread the Word to End the Word - Too often, people say “retard” or “retarded”  without thinking about its effects - even if it’s not meant in a cruel way. The Spread the  Word to End the Word campaign, created by youth, invites schools, organizations and  communities to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities. Visit r-word.org for information about how to launch a Spread the Word to End the Word campaign in your school or to sign the pledge to eliminate the R-word.  Appropriate for: elementary, middle, high schools.  Review the R-word Tool Kit to help with campaign ideas.
  • GII Logo Get Into It Curriculum - Promote respect in your class room with the Get Into It curriculum.  Take Special Olympics from the playing fields into your classroom by energizing young people  to become advocates for persons with intellectual disabilities. Online age-appropriate resources,  including lessons, activities, videos, athlete stories and supplemental materials, are available for  grades K-12. Visit the Get Into It website for more details.  Appropriate for: elementary, middle, high schools

School Plunge - “The Big Chill”
Special Olympics Maine is hosting its first annual School Plunge on Sunday April 9th, 2017 at Snow Pond Center for the Arts in Sidney.  This plunge is designed for student participation, although all are welcome to take the plunge in the chilly waters of Snow Pond.  All funds raised will benefit Special Olympics Maine’s Unified Champion Schools programs with 30% of a school’s total money raised going directly back to the school to help fund current  and future Unified Schools’ initiatives.  Come join the fun and “Chill” while supporting a great cause!  Participants are required to raise a MINIMUM of $75.00 and will receive the official commemorative School Plunge t-shirt. Additional incentives and prizes are available based on additional monies raised.  For more information click here.

Unified Schools Funding
Special Olympics Maine is pleased to announce once again that funding will be available for schools to support their Unified Schools (formerly known as Project UNIFY) efforts in 2016-17.  To become eligible for this funding, schools that apply must exhibit how they will incorporate all three Unified School components, listed below, into their school community.
  • Unified Sports
  • Unified Youth Leadership
  • Whole School Awareness
The combination of all three Unified School components in a school setting continues to provide the best approach for schools. Special Olympics Maine has witnessed first-hand the tremendous results Unified Schools has had on school climates when these three Unified School components are implemented within a school community.  The results have been overwhelmingly positive and have shown to bring positive change to entire school communities, such as accepting and respecting ALL students while also offering new opportunities to those who typically did not have them.
Based on funding we received, Special Olympics Maine will be able to offer schools who meet criteria an opportunity to receive funding as follows:
  • 1st and 2nd year schools - max funding $2,500.00 per school
In addition, we are pleased to share that the Maine Principals Association is making plans to offer a 2nd Unified Sports offering in the 2016-17 school year (TBD).  Once determined, any school considering funding to start this new Unified Sports program, will be asked to complete a separate application for funding in the Fall of 2016.  (Special Olympics Maine will set aside additional funding to support this effort)  New schools (or existing Unified Schools) may apply to receive funding as follows:
  • 1st and 2nd year schools - max funding $1,000.00 per school
Please note that schools that have received funding for 2+ years cannot apply for ANY funding unless the school has plans to start the 2nd Unified Sports program.  And also note that the same criteria and incorporation of the three Unified Schools components outlined above will apply.
Special Olympics Maine's Unified Schools funding application is now available by clicking here or by visiting our Unified Schools website. The application must be completed and submitted online by March 17, 2017.  Click here to review the application questions.  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 School Administrator and Unified School Liaison will receive an email notification with the contents of their submitted application.
For more information, support or questions regarding the 2016-17 Unified Schools Funding Application contact Ian Frank (IanF@somaine.org or 879-0489).

Interested in learning more about how to start a Unified Champion Schools program in your school?

Click here to fill out the Special Olympics Maine Unified Champion Schools interest form.


  • Ian Frank
  • Unified Champion Schools, Training & Camp Tall Pines Director
  • Office: (207) 879-0489 x 14
  • Fax: 1 (888) 490-0672
  • IanF@somaine.org


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