Unified Sports® is a registered program of Special Olympics that combines approximately equal numbers of athletes with and without intellectual disability on sports teams for training and competition. All Unified Sports® players, both athletes and special partners, are of similar age and matched sport skill ability. Unified Sports® teams are placed in competitive divisions based on their skill abilities, and range from training divisions (with a skill-learning focus) to high level competition.
In 1992, as part of an effort to reach school-aged athletes, Connecticut Special Olympics formed a partnership with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to bring Unified Sports® to Connecticut’s schools. The CIAC/Special Olympics Unified Sports® Program operates throughout the school year and closely follows the school calendar. Unified Sports® events are organized each sport season for elementary, middle and high school students. All public and parochial schools in Connecticut are invited to participate. At the elementary level, students engage in non-competitive athletic activities designed to develop skills in a variety of sports. At the middle and high school level, students compete in statewide Unified Sports® tournaments. The CIAC currently holds tournaments in the sports of soccer, basketball, volleyball, and softball. And, as the program continues to grow, new sports are sure to be added!
This innovative approach has had and will continue to have a dramatic impact on the number of school age children who now have the opportunity to participate in organized team sports through their school. The CAS/Connecticut Special Olympics Unified Sports® program currently boasts a participation of more than 1300 athletes and partners, and 120 schools throughout the state.
Participation in Unified Sports® leads to new friendships, improved self-esteem and positive changes in attitude, behavior, and performance.
The CIAC/Special Olympics Unified Sports® Program helps to foster an inclusive school community where the values of tolerance, patience and sensitivity are cornerstones.
- an interested staff member to serve as the Unified Sports® coordinator/coach
- at least three (3) students who meet the Unified Sports® eligibility criteria. (NOTE: there is no minimum number of athletes required for participation in elementary Unified Sports® activities.)
- available athletic equipment/facilities for team practices
- the support of the principal and parents
The Unified Sports® coordinator/coach is responsible for assembling a team and coordinating the practice schedule. These tasks can be easily accomplished with the cooperation of your special education and physical education personnel. If the coordinator/coach is not qualified to coach a Unified Sports® team, he/she can recruit assistance from a faculty member, school coach, parent or community member who has a familiarity with sports.
For questions and/or further information, contact Lou Pear, Director of Unified Sports, at lpearcasciacorg (lpearcasciacorg)
Secondly, we hope to raise awareness by educating the public about the diverse abilities of children with special needs and the unique bond that naturally occurs while working and learning along side their typical peers. We will be monitoring the success of our efforts and will have the opportunity to meet with teachers from other communities implementing the Young Athlete Program to share strategies and successes. Special Olympics provide FREE equipment and instruction on improving school readiness and
Click on the “Downloads/Entries” tab on this page to obtain the necessary registration forms for the Young Athlete program.
II. Unified Sports® and its parent-arm, Special Olympics, were created and developed to give individuals with intellectual disability the opportunity to train and compete in sports activities. No person shall, on the grounds of sex, race, religion, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of Special Olympics.
III. Eligibility for participation in Unified Sports® :
a. General Statement of Eligibility. Every person with intellectual disabilities who is at least five years of age is eligible to participate in Unified Sports®.
b. Age Requirements. The minimum age requirement for participation in Unified Sports® is five years of age.
c. Degree of Disability. Participation in Unified Sports® training and competition is open to all persons with intellectual disabilities who meet the age requirement of this Section, regardless of the level or degree of that person’s disability, and whether or not that person also has other mental or physical disabilities, so long as that person registers to participate in Unified Sports® as required by these General Rules.
d. Identifying Persons with Intellectual Disabilities. A person is considered to have intellectual disabilities for purposes of determining his or her eligibility to participate in Unified Sports® if that person satisfies any one of the following requirements:
1) The person has been identified by an agency or professional as having intellectual disabilities as determined by their localities; or
2) The person has a cognitive delay, as determined by standardized measures such as intelligent quotient or “IQ” testing or other measures which are generally accepted within the professional community in that Accredited Program’s nation as being a reliable measurement of the existence of a cognitive delay; or
3) The person has a closely related developmental disability. A “closely related developmental disability” means having functional limitations in both general learning (such as IQ) and in adaptive skills (such as in recreation, work, independent living, self-direction, or self-care). However, persons whose functional limitations are based solely on a physical, behavioral, or emotional disability, or a specific learning or sensory disability, are not eligible to participate as Special Olympics athletes, but may be eligible to volunteer for Unified Sports®
- Unified Sports Calendar
- Currently Participating Schools/Coaches
- Unified Sports Coaches Handbook
- Unified Sports Special Athlete Physical Form
- Athlete Release Form
- Special Release Form for Athletes with Atlanto-Axial Instability
- Unified Sports Partner Form
- Young Athlete Registration Form (English)
- Young Athlete Registration Form (Spanish)
- Michaels Cup Forms:
- Intent to Enter – High School/Middle School Volleyball
- High School/Middle School Track
- Intent to Enter – Elementary Skills Days