With Fourth of July fireworks in the rear view and lots of pool days ahead, school is definitely out for summer. Before we know it, back to school sales will be here. But before we start shopping for new school supplies, we wanted to share how the 2012-13 school year went for the Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program.
In a word – the school year was awesome!
We had unprecedented growth and are so excited about where things are going with the Schools Partnership Program!
Our most popular sports that gained the most student-athletes were basketball and track & field.
Overall, our Schools Partnership Program family grew by 1,381 athletes!
One of the most exciting aspects of this year (and all the number crunching!) was how many more non-disabled students joined our Schools Partnership Program.
You might be asking yourself – “What do the general-education students do?” Whole-school involvement is an important part of the Schools Partnership Program with the ultimate goal of promoting unity and respect in the schools. There are a lot of different ways for a whole school to be involved!
• Students could serve as volunteers, fans in the stands, peer partners or coaches at a Special Olympics Schools Partnership Program sports competition
• Student leaders can plan a Spread the Word to End the Word campaign at their school in a variety of ways to raise consciousness about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the word “retard,” including taking the pledge to stop saying the r-word
• Work to make sure all school clubs are inclusive and welcoming to all or create their own club
• Join the fun in our annual Polar Plunge through the Cool School Challenge
At the end of the day, it’s about uniting intellectually disabled and non-disabled peers so that everyone feels accepted and welcomed at school. You can read more about whole-school involvement by clicking here. But let’s get back to the school-year recap! We even had growth in our Young Athlete Program (which we highlighted in this blog post) with 139 more pre-K kids joining in on the fun!
While we’re thrilled with the additions, we still have a ways to go. Our ultimate goal is to have Special Olympics in every school. In the school districts that currently participate in the Schools Partnership Program, 29 percent of the schools currently participate. Even though we have over 15,000 general-education students participating, they only make up a fraction of the student population. We made great strides in bringing inclusion and respect to schools, but you can imagine how many more K-12 students we still need to reach.
All I can say is that it’s a great time to get involved with Special Olympics Northern California Schools Partnership Program! If you’re interested in becoming part of our program, please email schools at sonc dot org.