Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Special Olympics NC and NCHSAA Collaborate to Bring Inclusive Sports Opportunities for High School Students

Unified Flag Football Game to be held on April 19 @ Carrboro High School

RALEIGH– Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) are working together on ways to foster the inclusion of students with disabilities into education-based athletics and activities. The collaboration in North Carolina has led to a member of the NCHSAA Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), Anna Broome of Carrboro High School, hosting a Unified Flag Football game on April 19 from 9 a.m. to noon at Carrboro High School in Carrboro.

The SONC/NCHSAA partnership is a result of the commitment from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to encourage their state member associations around the country to advance the mission and goals of both organizations nationwide. Project UNIFY is often the focus of these partnerships where Unified Sports® (people with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team together) is integrated as a sanctioned program of the state Interscholastic Athletic Association (IAA ) for its member schools.

Special Olympics Project UNIFY uses Special Olympics sports and education to activate young people to become “agents of change” and create inclusive school communities– fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Unified Sports® joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared sports experiences. Unified teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. Having sport in common is just one way preconceptions and false ideas are swept away and friendship and understanding is earned.

Special Olympics NC has been working with NCHSAA Commissioner, Davis Whitfield and NCHSAA Assistant Director- Student Services ChiquanaDancy since 2012 to educate schools and student athletes about the benefits of Interscholastic Unified Sports. In 2013, Special Olympics NC was able to educate student athletes about Unified Sports at the Student Athlete Summer Institute camps held across the state Later that summer, the NCHSAA Student Athlete Advisory Council members attended a joint retreat with the Special Olympics NC Youth Activation Council. The retreat focused on youth leadership training and resources and facilitated the two groups working together throughout the school year. The groups will meet again in the summer of 2014. After the retreat, several SAAC members including Anna Broome were inspired to use Unified Sports as their community service project for the 2013/2014 school year.

“Our goal is to work side-by-side with the NCHSAA to ensure students of all abilities have the opportunity to participate in sports in high school,” said Keith L. Fishburne, Special Olympics NC president/CEO. “We want to make Unified Sports a regular offering at every high school in the state. The flag football event in Carrboro will show a whole new dimension to interscholastic sports where these students may not have had the opportunity to participate before and now they do. We applaud the NCHSAA and the SAAC youth and look forward to a bright and inclusive future in North Carolina scholastic athletics for people with intellectual disabilities.”

About Special Olympics North Carolina
Special Olympics North Carolina offers year-round sports training and competition for more than 38,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These athletes inspire greatness through their success and provide motivation to the thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers Olympic-type competition in 19 sports on local and state levels. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at Engage with us on; and

About North Carolina High School Athletic Association
The mission of the NC High School Athletic Association is to provide governance and leadership for interscholastic athletic programs that support and enrich the educational experience of students. The NCHSAA is a private, non-profit corporation with 399 member schools, certifying the eligibility of over 200,000 student-athletes annually and conducting championships in 23 sports. Visit for latest sports news.