In 2015, Special Olympics Northern California (SONC), Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced a partnership to establish an inclusive culture that promotes participation opportunities for student-athletes with disabilities. This partnership enabled CIF member schools to implement unified sports programming on their respective campuses. Now, the CIF and Special Olympics renew their partnership and look to standardize unified competition offered by CIF member schools.
It is estimated that over 10 percent of students in California schools have a documented disability. The inclusion of athletic programs for students with intellectual disabilities increases opportunities and encourages access to academic benefits through athletic participation. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same sports team, teaching teamwork and the value of inclusion for all participants. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
“We are thrilled to continue our game-changing partnership with CIF and the California Department of Education," said David Solo, president and CEO of SONC. "Students of all abilities should have the opportunity to compete in sports and share in the pride of representing their school. This partnership has created lifelong memories and friendships, and I’m excited for all that we can accomplish together in building a more inclusive California.”
Calvin Lyons, president and CEO of SOSC, adds, "The CIF and the California Department of Education have been incredible partners, and we look forward to an even stronger relationship in the coming years,” said Calvin Lyons, President, and CEO of Special Olympics Southern California. "Everyone deserves to feel included, respected, and part of a community, and we are accomplishing just that. Together, we are able to provide opportunities to students with and without intellectual disabilities to learn, grow, and reach their dreams."
With the renewal of this partnership, CIF has updated the Inclusive Sports section on www.cifstate.org. This resource provides CIF member schools with tools to implement programs for students with disabilities on their school campuses.
“The CIF is appreciative of its long-time partnership with Special Olympics and looks forward to continuing working with Special Olympics to bring meaningful and lasting experiences to our CIF member schools, Unified and partner athletes,” said Ron Nocetti, CIF executive director.