Unified Champion Schools will receive $200,000 in appropriated New York State funding to expand the program into more districts.
Through a partnership with Special Olympics New York and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Unified Champion Schools brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities through education, sports and youth leadership to provide them with the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to create and sustain school communities that promote acceptance, respect and human dignity.
“I’ve seen first-hand how playing together as part of a team can inspire young people to do more, to be more and to achieve more in all aspects of life,” Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton. “Schools across our region are adopting unified sports programs, which offer students of all abilities the opportunity to gain life-long lessons, memories and friends.”
The funding was needed to provide initial support to schools for transportation, coaches and adviser stipends, and to purchase uniforms and equipment. Funding also is needed to support training and education of youth leaders, secure facilities for summits and competitions, purchase awards and staffing.
“Special Olympics New York, through our revolutionary Unified Champion Schools initiative, is leading the way in breaking down barriers and promoting inclusion for students across the state who are differently abled,” SONY president and CEO Neal Johnson said in a statement. “Through interscholastic sports teams, students with and without disabilities, come together, supported by their whole school communities, changing minds, hearts and attitudes about each other’s abilities and the potential that is inherent in all of us.”
SONY provides year-round sports training and competition in 22 Olympic-style sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost. Nearly 69,000 athletes train and compete in New York, the largest Special Olympics program in North America.
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