Hello and welcome! I’m Heather, and I’ll be one of your writers here on Our Unified Schools! We’re really excited about our new blog and thought I’d introduce myself and the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program.
I work for Special Olympics Northern California as the director of our school and youth development. This means that I help schools bring special education students and their general education peers together via Project UNIFY. I do everything from bring Special Olympics athletes to speak at a school assemblies or aid schools in their fundraising efforts or help with a school’s Spread the Word to End the Word campaign – and more!
You can read more about our Schools Partnership Program by scrolling down a little bit or click on over to our about us page. We at Special Olympics Northern California are looking forward to making this blog a resource for teachers, parents, students and a place to share inspiring stories. We can’t wait to see your school featured here!
Director of School and Youth Development
What is the Schools Partnership Program?
It’s a unique education program in K-12 public schools that unifies disabled and non-disabled students to bring acceptance and respect to schools. Special Olympics Northern California provides a grant to a public school or district and helps the teachers instruct their special education students in sports. The Schools Partnership Program takes place during the school day with training and fitness integrated into the classroom. The special education student-athletes train and compete in three seasonal sports – soccer (fall), basketball (winter) and track & field (spring). For many, this is the first opportunity to compete, be a part of a team or be cheered on by family and friends.
Is the Schools Partnership Program just for special education students?
Nope! While the special education students definitely do benefit from the Schools Partnership Program, the general education students are also impacted. By interacting with the special education students, the non-disabled peers (also known as mainstream students) learn to respect and accept those with intellectual disabilities. The Schools Partnership Program helps alleviate any bullying on a campus because the two groups of students become friends and equals.
What Is Project UNIFY?
Special Olympics Project UNIFY brings special education students and their non-disabled peers together. Without Project UNIFY, the two groups might not have much positive interaction but having Project UNIFY on campuses creates climates of inclusion, acceptance, respect and human dignity for all students – with and without intellectual disabilities. Across the United States, there are more than 600,000 (over 3,600 in Northern California and Nevada alone) students involved in over 1,700 schools (190 in Northern California and Nevada). To read more, please click here.
What kinds of things will this blog feature?
All kinds of things! We’ll highlight awesome activities that schools in Northern California are doing to make their campuses better places. We’ll post videos and photos from right in our backyard to across the country to inspire kindness, make you think and motivate you to bring acceptance and inclusion on your campus and in your life.
Why Did Special Olympics Northern California Start This Blog?
We wanted a place to showcase all of the heartwarming stories that we see every day in our Schools Partnership Program and Project UNIFY. We also wanted to offer fun and effective activities for teachers and administrators and to be a resource for those involved in special education.