Coaches and students In the Queen Creek Unified School District are redefining high school sports through a program created by the Special Olympics.
Unified Sports, created by the Special Olympics in partnership with the Unified Champion Schools initiative, is aimed at promoting inclusivity and encouraging camaraderie among young athletes of all abilities, according to a QCUSD press release.
In Unified Sports, students with and without disabilities join forces to compete in various sports.
Coach Robert Foley from Eastmark High School has seen how Unified Sports brings people together.
“Coaching Unified Sports is one of the most unique experiences in all of sports,” Foley stated in the press release. “Especially since it is a true collaboration of Queen Creek district administration, Eastmark school administration, athletics, individual sports and coaches, peer helpers/student body, parents, the AIA/referees, cheerleaders, and the special education department. This kind of collaboration and teamwork is the very best part of what defines Unified Sports.”
High schools that offer this program provide students with a unique opportunity to build relationships, break down stereotypes and foster a sense of belonging, the release stated. Eastmark High Unified Sports Team Captain Jaxon C. has made new friends and improved his athletic abilities.
“This year, I have made new friends with Elliott and Chris who are regular football players,” Jaxon stated. “My favorite sport is baseball, but my favorite Unified Sport is basketball because I’m really good at it and make three-pointers.”
Unified Sports is currently playing flag football. They will play soccer in the winter season, followed by track and field and basketball in the spring, the release stated.