The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools (UCS) program is a dedicated inclusion program for schools, aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities. UCS is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities to create a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners.
What a Unified Champion School “looks like” can vary greatly from school to school, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each school; but the basic building blocks remain the same: school communities where students of all abilities feel welcome and included in, and feel a part of, all activities and opportunities.
This is accomplished by implementing:
- Unified Playing for All (Sport): is Special Olympics Australia’s Unified Sports model. A fully inclusive physical activity program that incorporates students with and without intellectual disability and/or autism playing together. Schools select a Unified Playing for All program when making a booking request, and then make it Unified by including students with and without intellectual disability and/or autism. Can be delivered by a teacher or a Special Olympics Australia arranged coach.
- Inclusive Youth Leadership: is when young people of all abilities are given opportunities to be leaders in their schools and communities. These leadership activities help students find their voices, engage in learning, and teach them to become leaders in their communities and advocates for inclusion. What Inclusive Youth Leadership looks like is unique to each school.
Examples might include:
- Unified Lunchtime Clubs, led by student leaders.
- Student Mentoring or Peer Support
- Inclusive Student Leadership Council’s
Inclusive Youth Leadership activities are supported by a series of lessons and resources for Foundation to Year 12, aligned to the Australian Curriculum, designed to equip students with the tools to be inclusive leaders. The lessons focus on the General Capabilities – Ethical Understanding and Personal and Social Capability, and cover topics such as Emotional Awareness, Communication, Leadership, and Diversity. Access these lesson plans via the Unified Schools page at the Inclusive Sport Academy
- Whole School Engagement: school-wide awareness and education activities that fosters understanding and respect for all can influence how students think and act within and beyond the school. School-wide opportunities focused on social inclusion raise awareness and create an educational environment where respect and acceptance are the norm, and all students feel included and engaged. Students with and without intellectual disability are given opportunities to plan and lead activities and put their Youth Leadership skills in action. What these activities look like and how they are implemented can be different from school to school.
Examples might include:
- Unified Sports Days
- School Campaigns
- Classroom Lessons
For more program information and ideas on implementing Unified Playing for All, Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole School activities access:
- Unified Champion Schools Guidebook
- Unified Champion Schools Primary Framework
- Unified Champion Schools Secondary Framework
- Foundation to Year 12
- Coach or teacher delivered physical activity through 8-week Unified Playing for All (sport) program.
- Explicit teaching of the General Capabilities through teacher led curriculum aligned lesson plans
- Whole School Engagement and Youth Leadership activities
- Program activities can be supported with funding
- Be awarded and recognised as a true champion of inclusion.