100&Change: 2021

Inclusive Mindsets and Skillsets through Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools

Special Olympics

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools project seeks to cultivate inclusive mindsets and behaviors through a research and policy agenda supported by programming that brings together youth with and without intellectual disabilities through sports, leadership development, and community engagement.

Submitted: May 2021
DOWNLOAD: Project Factsheet
Two-page overview of proposal
Competition Participation
100&Change: 2021
Disability rights
Current Work Location(s):
  • Panama
  • Kenya
  • United Arab Emirates
  • India
  • Romania
  • Argentina
  • Rwanda
  • Kenya
  • Egypt
  • India
Priority Population(s):
  • Children and youth
  • Adolescents
  • People with disabilities
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
  • 3. Good health and well-being
  • 4. Quality education
  • 10. Reduced inequalities

Executive Summary

In an increasingly diverse world, the skillsets and mindsets to constructively engage those who are different are urgently needed. A future where stigma and exclusion no longer plague the marginalized requires a generational tipping point in the development of these skills. To meet this urgency, Special Olympics is building an inclusive research and policy agenda supported by an evidence-based, co-curricular intervention.

The intervention convenes students with and without intellectual disabilities to develop inclusive mindsets and skillsets through sport, leadership development, and community engagement. This is executed in partnership with local and national education authorities and Special Olympics, a global organization with 50 years of experience creating attitudinal change towards people with intellectual disabilities. If we join forces, our efforts have the potential to spill beyond the schoolhouse doors to create communities and cultures where differences are accepted and embraced.

Organization Details
Lead Organization

Special Olympics

website: https://www.specialolympics.org/
Organization Headquarters
District of Columbia, United States
Organization ID
Annual Operating Budget
$25.1 to 50 Million
Number of Full-time Employees
< 50

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity


In nearly every part of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has swiftly and profoundly affected the education of a generation. At the peak of the crisis, more than a billion students were forced out of their classrooms and into social isolation. Where virtual learning was available, it produced mixed and often inequitable results. Children were disconnected from the schools that typically serve as their communities and centers for interpersonal growth.

We met this challenge head-on. Over the past year, each country’s Special Olympics program made meaningful connections to educational authorities and adapted the programming to be locally relevant. While much in-person outreach needed to be adapted to online settings, programming was delivered virtually, including the creation of training materials and initial outreach to schools. Though 2020 was unprecedented in its impact, Special Olympics persevered and made impressive strides in the expansion of programming around the world.