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Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools bring together students with and without intellectual disabilities through education, sports and youth leadership to provide them with the knowledge, attitudes and skill necessary to create and sustain school communities that promote acceptance, respect and human dignity. 294 Michigan schools took part in the Unified Champion Schools program during the 2018-2019 school year.

A Catalyst for Change

Through data collected, Special Olympics has learned that in order to be transformative within schools, state programs need to go beyond simply providing students the opportunity to engage in single, Special Olympics-specific initiatives. It is the connection between Special Olympics initiatives, along with the youth and schools' involvement in the design and implementation of Unified Champion Schools; that can foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment for students with intellectual disabilities.

We also understand how important it is for Special Olympics Michigan to collaborate with educators in identifying what role Unified Champion Schools can play in meeting their state, district and individual school's strategic goals, whether it be promoting school climate, developing physical fitness, building character, preventing bullying, enhancing student engagement, or any other important school reform. 

What is a Special Olympics Unified Champion School?

A sustaining Special Olympics Unified Champion School is a combination of at least three components; sports, youth leadership/advocacy, and a school-wide activity. A Unified Champion School there is an understanding that this is not just an incident or event that happens for one day, or a single experience, but rather year-long or seasonal activities. In a Unified Champion School there is an expectation that acceptance and inclusion are everyday occurrences that change entire schools and impact the whole student body.

Interested in learning more about how to become a Special Olympics Unified Champion School?

Contact Special Olympics Michigan Unified Champion Schools Coordinator, Jamie Cotter, at (989) 774-3208 or

Ready to register your school as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School?

School Registration Form

Youth Activation Committee members

Youth Activation Committee

The 2019-2020 State Youth Activation Committee (YAC) will be working on spreading acceptance and inclusion in their regions, planning the Unified Day rally, and taking part in various leadership and speaking engagements throughout the year. Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2019-2020 school year

Unified Champion Schools Partner Organizations


As schools around Michigan and the nation strive for a culture of inclusion and acceptance within hallways, the MHSAA and Special Olympics Michigan continue to grow their partnership by building inclusive school communities through sports. To learn more about the MHSAA, click here.

Unified Champion Schools Contact