November Highlights

We are so excited that your school has joined the inclusion revolution, and we can’t wait to continue the school year with Whole School Engagement activities, Inclusive Youth Leadership opportunities, and Unified Sports. Each year, we grow and strengthen our program. This year we will be communicating with our schools via this Constant Contact email service.
Component 1:
Whole School Engagement

Florida State University is the first college in Florida to be recognized as a National
Banner Unified Champion School! To celebrate, athletes, students and faculty held a Unified kickball game before unveiling the banner earlier this month. The celebration was complemented by their ESPN Honor Roll award as well as classroom visits and radio interviews with JR Sport Brief, as part of his Special Olympics national college tour. Congratulations FSU!
Many schools celebrated Unity Day this Fall as they recently joined the program. Several new schools are located within Duval County Public Schools as part of a new initiative across the country -- Unified Champion City Schools. This project recently launched in Jacksonville and focuses on developing Unified Champion Schools programming in underserved communities and strengthening community partnerships. To date, 25 schools in Duval County are participating (elementary through high school).
Another county that has embraced district-level engagement is Lee County with 24 schools of all levels participating in Unified Champion Schools. Middle schools have started competing in basketball, using the Rising Stars program model and interscholastic opportunities. Pictured: Three Oaks Middle School and Lexington Middle School held a basketball game with students cheering them on as Fans in the Stands.

Across town, Gulf Elementary School held a Turkey Trot this month which highlighted its Unified Champion Schools athletes and Unified partners during an outdoor race for the whole school to enjoy.
Component 2:
Inclusive Youth Leadership

Special Olympics Florida staff member Sophie DeAnnuntis and Special Olympics Florida Athlete of the Year Jacob Sare were invited to Lincoln Elementary in Hillsborough County this month for the Great American Teach-In. They read ‘We’re all Wonders’ by R. J. Palacio and did activities and a Special Olympics Young Athletes obstacle course.
This month, we feature a discussion topic from sports psychologist Dr. Micheal Jones for coaches, athletes, teachers and students to use in their Inclusive Youth Leadership programming:

Sports Psychology - Team Cohesion
Team Cohesion is when a group of individuals come together to achieve a common goal. If teams can learn how to come together through sport to achieve a common goal, then success can grow. Success is not all determined by wins, but by improvement towards your goals. Be cohesive with confidence.

  1. What are some ways that your school works towards team effectiveness and developing skills and performance?
  2. Do you have any traditions or routines?
  3. What brings you all together for your common goal?
Dr. Micheal L. Jones
Component 3: Unified Sports

FHSAA and Community-based Flag Football - Unified teams competed at Special Olympics Florida state competitions this month culminating their Fall season. FHSAA teams will compete for the state championship in May.

FHSAA Bowling - Six teams competed at the FHSAA Bowling State Championships in Orlando on November 4, with Homestead Senior High School taking home the gold! Congrats to all teams and our dedicated coaches and volunteers for a great season!

FHSAA Basketball - Nine teams competed in league play games on November 20-21 in Tavares. We enjoyed watching the athletes and Unified partners play together for the first games of the season. Regionals are up next in January!

Enrollment in Young Athletes, Little ELITES, Rising Stars and competitive Unified Sports is open! Contact us to start your required inclusive sports component. We have school-based programming for every grade level.
Meet the Staff at Special Olympics Florida
We are here to assist you with your Unified Champions Schools program.

Danielle Kent, Manager, Unified Champion Schools, Health & Fitness, 352-242-7770

Jana Arnette, Manager, Unified Champion City Schools - Jacksonville, 904-568-6681

Meredith Narayanan, Sr Director, Unified Champion Schools & Non-Competitive Programs, 352-727-5097
November - January 2022
Open registration for Unified Champion Schools program - Know of a school that wants to join and #choosetoinclude? Please contact Danielle Kent.

October 30 - December 18, 2021
Race for Inclusion (statewide & virtual)

November - December 2021
Sign up now to participate in the PlayVS Unified esports Spring Program (Rocket League). 6 teams will be invited to compete at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games esports event next June. Please email us if you have a Unified esports team that is interested in attending.

June 5-12, 2022
Unified Champion Schools and Young Athletes are invited to attend, learn and support fellow athletes.