The University of Iowa has been recognized nationally as a Special Olympics United Champion school for its efforts to include students with disabilities in intramural programs this fall.
The Special Olympics organization recognized the University of Iowa as School of Unified Special Olympics Champions, a program that recognizes schools for their inclusion of students with disabilities in athletics.
UI is the first college school in Iowa State and the 68th in the United States to receive this recognition. To receive Special Olympics recognition, schools must meet ten criteria.
From Criteria offer unified sports at least two seasons throughout the school year, having coaches and students participating with training in Special Olympics unified sports and recognizing unified sports in a style similar to other intra-sports. muros and campus club.
“It is definitely a prestigious recognition, and it is therefore achievable” Bryan coffeysaid the director of unified programs for Special Olympics Iowa. “They have to show that they have met the criteria and that they have done so faithfully. So they are really and honestly pursuing an inclusive model by pursuing these 10 points. “
Unified Programs is an intramural sports program. Coffey said there are more than 16,000 Special Olympics athletes in Iowa, but only four schools in the state are nationally recognized.
Unified Sports, the IU Intramural Leagues and the IU Special Olympics Student Chapter are working together to create an encouraging and welcoming environment for Special Olympic athletes, said Jenah McCarty, IU public health student, who is a member of the functioning unified sports section. with the Special Olympics.
“All of these goals are something we are looking at and always striving to achieve” Mccarty noted.
Athletes play sports such as rowing, basketball, flag football and bowling, Sydney prochaska, said the president of the student organization Special Olympics of the IU.
“When we show up to play unified sports, we are all at the same level” Prochaska noted. “We’re teammates first and foremost, and we’re here to play volleyball.”
Unified Sports and the UI’s Special Olympics student organizations were not actively trying to achieve this recognition by meeting the criteria, Prochaska said.
Instead, organizations accidentally stumbled upon recognition when trying to create a good space for Special Olympics athletes, McCarty said.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” McCarty said. “I guess it’s just because we were showing up week after week, trying to implement all that it means to be volunteers at Special Olympics Iowa. I wasn’t necessarily trying to tick boxes, but it just turned out that our program was working pretty well and doing what we’re supposed to do.
Prochaska said athletics helps break down barriers between students and allows people with disabilities to become more involved in the community.
“This is the only place in the world where they are treated the same and they are not looked down upon,” Prochaska said. “And people don’t treat them any differently, it’s very inclusive.”
Prochaska said that since the award was announced last month, she has received more messages than ever from people wishing to get involved with Special Olympics and its affiliated organizations on campus.
“It brings us more recognition on campus and in the community and gets more people involved,” McCarty said. “But I think the standards we set and the things we do will be pretty much the same.”
Coffey said he hoped the recognition would encourage other schools in the state to make their athletic programs more inclusive.
While the recognition is exciting and will encourage greater involvement, Prochaska and McCarty have said they don’t think this new title will change the way their operations play out.
“We’ve all implemented the components and standards that we already have by becoming a banner school,” McCarty said. “I think we will continue to do as we have been doing.”