The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is a national, education-based program conducted in schools, which uses the sports and education programs of Special Olympics to activate young people to promote respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Hawaii believes that through sports, young people can make a difference in friendships, schools, and communities.

The Unified Schools program is implemented through inclusive activities that support the program’s three main components. Each component focuses on promoting friendships and respect between students with and without intellectual disabilities.

Visit the Playbooks landing page to view and download resources for each school level (Elementary, Middle and High School).

Why Unified?

The magic of the Unified Schools program is manifested in the inclusive friendships formed, seeing paired youth in action as leaders, and creating communities of caring and respect.  This program sees results. 

79% of Unified teammates without disabilities reported increased understanding of people with intellectual disabilities. 81% of students say that the Unified Strategy is changing their school for the better.

Unified Sports

Teams up students with and without disabilities to train and compete together.

Click here to learn about our Unified Sports program

Inclusive Youth Leadership & Advocacy

Gives students with and without intellectual disabilities the opportunity to be in leadership roles and promote the unified message.

Schools can create an inclusionary club or Student Council and other existing clubs can invite special education students to participate in their club or committees. Together, students can organize an inclusionary event or activity for their club/committee or the school.

Youth Activation Committee (YAC)

Special Olympics believes that through sports, young people can make a difference in friendships, schools and communities. The Unified Schools program, therefore, is youth driven. Hawai’i has a State YAC made up of students with and without intellectual disabilities who promote, support, and expand the program in the state. 

Interested in joining the YAC? Contact Special Olympics Hawaii’s Unified Schools Manager at unify@sohawaii.org

Whole School Engagement

Provides opportunities for all students to hear and learn the message of unity through school-wide activities. Schools in Hawaii often put on Acceptance Campaigns, create school public service announcements, and hold rallies, assemblies, contests, etc. Numerous resources for educators have been created by Special Olympics to help implement Unified Schools activities school- wide.

Contact Special Olympics Hawaii’s Unified Schools Manager at unify@sohawaii.org for more information.

Promote inclusion for all through the Spread the Word: Inclusion campaign. Visit the site for more information. 

National Banner Recognition

A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community. Please see the attached award letter and list of standards.

2016-2017 National Banner Schools in Hawaii 

Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, Lihue, Kauai
Governor Wallace Rider Farrington High School, Honolulu, Oahu
Hilo High School, Hilo, Hawaii

2017-2018 National Banner Schools in Hawaii 

Maui High School, Kahului, Maui

2018-2019 National Banner Schools in Hawaii 

Waialua Elementary School, Waialua, Oahu

Congratulations schools! Learn more on the national site.

For information about getting involved in Unified Schools or how Special Olympics Hawaii can support your school, contact: 

Kalei Castillo 
Unified Champion Schools Coordinator
808-695-3529 unify@sohawaii.org