School Involvement

Whole-school involvement brings special education students and their non-disabled peers together. Without this engagement, the two groups might not have much positive interaction but involving all students at schools 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 15,000 in Northern California and Nevada alone) students involved in over 1,700 schools (190 in Northern California and Nevada). To learn about our gold-level schools involved, please click here. To see ways to get involved, please click here.

FAQs About Whole School-Involvment

Why Is Whole-School Involvement Needed?

    • Only 38 percent of youth have a schoolmate with intellectual disabilities
    • Only 10 percent of youth have a classmate with intellectual disabilities
    • Only 10 percent of youth across the country report having a friend with intellectual disabilities
    • 28 percent of all students report being bullied at school in a six-month period
    • 60 percent of students with disabilities reported being bullied
    • Among all high school students, 40-60 percent report being chronically disengaged from school
    • Students with intellectual disabilities are subject to an even greater sense of isolation
    • Only 34 percent of students engage in regular physical activity

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What Does Whole-School Involvement Do?

  • Promotes dignity and respect for all students

Example: The school that crowns a girl with intellectual disabilities as homecoming queen

  • Encourages social interactions between students with an without intellectual disabilities

Example: Students with and without intellectual disabilities eating lunch together or playing on the playground together

  • Includes students with intellectual disabilities in the greater school community

Example: Students with disabilities are more likely to run for student council or participate in other school clubs

    • Increases social interactions for parents of students with intellectual disabilities

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How Does Whole-School Involvement Affect Students Without Intellectual Disabilities?

    • 82 percent at are more aware that their emotions and attitudes can affect their classmates
    • 79 percent learned that working together requires compromise
    • 79 percent learned to be more patient with classmates
    • 78 percent view whole-school involvement as a positive turning point in their life
    • 65 percent learned they have things in common with students with disabilities

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What Are Examples of Whole-School Involvement Activities?

  • 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
  • And more!

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How Can I Get My School Involved?

Click here to see ways to get involved!

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