During the week of April 12-16, 2021, Saint Francis University will participate as one of more than 30 teams from across the country in the first ever Special Olympics Unified Sports® Virtual College Championship Week. The teams will compete across a series of 15 challenges that require team members to connect with each other and spread a message of inclusion through social media. Through its partnership with ESPN, Special Olympics is hosting the week as a way for Special Olympics Colleges to compete against others while adhering to social distancing and in-person restrictions that many campuses are currently under.
The SFU team is a unified team, meaning people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities will be competing and working toward a common goal together. The Unified partners, those without disabilities on the team, are students that are a part of the Saint Francis University College Club. The Special Olympics athletes, those with disabilities on the team, come from the local campus community. The Virtual College Championship Week provides an opportunity for these teammates to connect and compete together, building friendships along the way.
SFU has been hosting Special Olympics on campus for 33 years and is grateful for the virtual option during the pandemic situation. A variety of SFU athletic teams will be hosting online events for unified teams. The unified teams will consist of Special Olympic athletes as well as SFU athletes. The recorded events will be posted on social media and points will be awarded for each event. The scores of the competing colleges will be tallied to determine the winner, although organizers at SFU already feel like a winners for the opportunity to be part of the Special Olympics once again.
As of mid-March, there were teams representing 32 different colleges and universities registered for the Virtual College Championship Week. These teams were located from all across the country. At the end of the week, the team with the most participation points will be recognized by ESPN as the Virtual College National Champion. To follow along and see how SFU’s Unified team is doing during the week, please follow @SONorthAmerica on either Twitter or Instagram and look for the hashtag #SOCollegeChampWeek.
To get involved or learn about Special Olympics nationally, contact Scott George at email@example.com.
Special Olympics North America (SONA) is a national organization that aims to provide inclusive sports and fitness opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a part of its Unified Champion Schools® program, Special Olympics Unified Sports can be currently found on over 300 college and university campuses nationwide. https://www.specialolympics.org/our-work/unified-schools/college