Articles in Unified

Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration in Chicago

By Emma Finn

In 1968 the first Special Olympics International Summer Games were held in Chicago, Illinois. Now in 2018, Special Olympics, in honor of 50 years, is returning to Chicago to launch the year-long global Special Olympics 50th Anniversary celebrations this July.

Special Olympics International, Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children’s Charities in Chicago are all coming together to host a week full of fun and exciting events to celebrate the first 50 years of Special Olympics. One event planned is the first-ever Special Olympics Unified Cup, complete with both soccer teams and cheer teams.

Epworth Western Dubuque High School will be representing Iowa at the event!  The team will be cheering the soccer athletes on as well as doing their routine. The team will also get to do a routine with other teams from all over the world. The 4-day competition happens 17-20 July at Toyota Park in Chicago. Unified teams – including players with and without intellectual disabilities—will compete alongside their local football/soccer club sponsor. 

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First-Ever DMPS Unified Sports Day Sponsored by Principal Financial Group

By Emma Finn
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The Des Moines Public School District hosted its first-ever Unified Sports Day on April 19 at the Knapp Center on Drake University’s campus. The event is sponsored by Principal Financial Group, who also provided volunteers to make it possible.

 

In December of 2017, all ten Des Moines Middle Schools became active Unified Champion Schools, meaning that in partnership with Special Olympics Iowa they committed to pursuing Unified Sports, Student Leadership and School-Wide Awareness of intellectual disabilities. Next year, the district will register a number of elementary schools as Unified Champion Schools as well.

 

The goal of this initiative is to build upon and promote to students the concept of inclusion and acceptance across the school district. Unified sports days gives people with and without intellectual disabilities to join together to compete on the same team.

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DMPS First-Ever Unified Sports Day

The Des Moines Public School District will host its first-ever Unified Sports Day on April 19 at the Knapp Center on Drake University’s campus.

In December of 2017, all ten Des Moines Middle Schools became active Unified Champion Schools, meaning that in partnership with Special Olympics Iowa they committed to pursuing Unified Sports, Student Leadership and School-Wide Awareness of intellectual disabilities. Next year, the district will register a number of elementary schools as Unified Champion Schools as well.

The goal of this initiative is to build upon and promote to students the concept of inclusion and acceptance across the school district.

There is still time to sign-up to volunteer at the event. Sign-up online today to get involved!

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2018 Spread the Word to End the Word Day

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By Emma Finn 

In today’s society the R-word is used by many. The R-word, “retard,” is slang for mental retardation. It is the word that doctors first used to describe individuals with an intellectual impairment. This word is becoming a problem in today’s world by the way it is being used. It has become a trend to be used in place of stupid or idiot. Instead of being used as a medical term it is used to put down another person. The R-word is turning into something that is offensive and derogatory to a group of individuals. The R-word has become a non-inclusive word that affects so many people all over the world.

It’s just the way I talk, I did not mean it like that, or it is just an expression are not excuses that justify the use of this word. “Individual with an intellectual disability” is the way correct to describe a person with a medical impairment. Spread the Word to End the Word is a campaign to help raise awareness about the hurtfulness of the R-word. It is a way for individuals to do their part in creating an inclusive society.

Special Olympics and the Best Buddies partner with the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign in efforts of ending prejudice towards those with intellectual disabilities. Anyone and everyone is able to take this pledge by going to www.r-word.org. Here people can take the pledge, read stories about how words affect our society, and help spread awareness. To date, more than 700,000 people have taken the online pledge while millions have signed petitions, banners and taken oaths around the world to stop hurtful language and banish prejudices.

On Thursday, February 15, Special Olympics Iowa and Best Buddies of Iowa will gather at the Iowa State Capitol to encourage lawmakers to participate in the campaign and sign the pledge. Athletes and Best Buddies members will also be meeting with Governor Reynolds that day to sign a proclamation in support of the group’s efforts.

Spread the Word to End the Word will also be implemented in schools across the state of Iowa in an effort to aid the campaign’s cause. On March 7, 40 schools will have banners for students to sign to take the pledge. Students will also be participating in school-wide activities that will teach students the hurtfulness of the word and how it can be prevented.

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First-Ever University of Iowa Unified Flag Football Season a Success

By Bryan Coffey

22384046_10155995405387526_5649094252158941992_oSpecial Olympics Iowa (SOIA) and the University of Iowa (UI) Recreational Services Department have collaborated over the past several months to develop a unique and exciting partnership that promotes the Special Olympics Unified Sports component to university students and SOIA athletes.

This partnership has allowed SOIA athletes to compete alongside UI students in a six week Intramural Unified Flag Football Season. On Monday, October 23 the season championship game was held in Kinnick Stadium, where the teams played under the bright stadium lights and were cheered on by the University of Iowa Varsity Cheer Squad.

It was evident during this game that the friendships developed throughout this season were meaningful as the fans in the stands witnessed SOIA athletes and UI Student Partners huddle together to form plays and score touchdowns.22382326_10155995409822526_7965410523128040863_o

“Our first-ever Intramural Unified Flag Football league was a great success. We received great feedback from UI students who participated as partners, as well as the Special Olympics athletes and their families,” says Tommy Schorer, Associate Director, UI Sport Programs. “Great relationships were formed, and the smiles on everyone’s faces were indicative of the great time they were all having. We are excited to be leading the way in the state of Iowa in terms of implementing Unified Sports into our Intramural Sports program, and we hope to see other schools around the state follow our lead. We look forward to expanding to even more sports in the near future.”

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SOIA now accepting applications for first Unified Champion Schools Scholarship

20140918_120810Special Olympics Iowa is offering an opportunity to graduating high school seniors who are involved in any Iowa Unified Champion Schools (UCS) program.

Teacher liaisons from Unified Champion Schools in Iowa may nominate a graduating senior to win one of two $250 scholarships. If your school is not currently a Unified Champion School, please contact Bryan Coffey bcoffey@soiowa.org to learn more.

Nomination Process:
School Liaison:
– Select one graduating senior to nominate for the scholarship
– Write a 200 word (1/2 page) nomination letter explaining why you think this student would be a good candidate for this award
Student:
– Must be pursuing a higher level of education during the 2018-2019 school year.
– Write a 300-400 word (1½ pages MAX) letter detailing the following:

  • Name
  • Number of years involved with Special Olympics programs
  • Special Olympics programs and activities the student has participated in
  • Any leadership roles the student has held within the UCS club
  • Most gratifying moment of being involved

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Staff Column: SOIA Holds First Unified Champion Schools Youth Summit

By Bryan Coffey, Director of Unified Sports and Volunteers

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On June 5, 2017, Special Olympics Iowa hosted its first-ever Unified Champion Schools Youth Summit. This was an exciting opportunity for student youth leadership teams to interact with other student leaders from around the state of Iowa. Our main objective for the 2017 Youth Summit was to help students to excel in leadership roles within their schools.

Four Iowa high schools brought students to participate in this program. These schools each represented different regions of our state, which encouraged great conversations and learning opportunities. The schools were:

  • Ankeny Centennial High School (West Central Region)
  • Spencer High School (North Region)
  • Wayne Community High School ( South Central Region)
  • Western Dubuque High school ( East Region)

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