School-Based Program

In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia program offers sports with unified and traditional options during the school day in our school-based program.

Students with and without intellectual disabilities can participate in Special Olympics as an athlete (individuals with intellectual disabilities), partner (individuals without intellectual disabilities) or as a coach right in their own schools! Special Olympics programming is currently offered in more than 30 Philadelphia Public and Charter Schools and is frequently referred to as Interscholastic Unified Sports (IUS). Promoting inclusion and meaningful participation for all, IUS programming in Philadelphia offers recreational and competitive training in bocce, track & field and soccer, as well as offers opportunities for students to become advocates in spreading the mission and vision of Special Olympics to their peers and communities. Our school-based programming has something for everyone no matter their ability level. 

Check out this video highlighting Pennsylvania’s Interscholastic Unified Sports – featuring our Philadelphia schools!

Unified Champion School Components

Unified Sports

Unified Sports consist of an equal number of students with and without intellectual disabilities training and competing on the same team. These Interscholastic Unified Sports (or IUS for short) teams use the same practice facilities and have coaches who have received training. Teams wear competition uniforms with their high school’s name and colors and compete against other schools that participate in the same sport and are eligible to be selected to participate in a culminating state championship event.

Youth Leadership

Youth Leadership consists of an organized group of students within each school devoted to promoting inclusion and improving school climate. This group meets regularly throughout the school year, identifying issues in the school and developing plans and activities to address them. This group can be its own entity or part of an existing group such as a student council subcommittee. 

Whole School Engagement

Whole School Engagement consists of events organized by the Youth Leadership group. The intent of these events is to maximize the reach within the school and spread awareness to the issues of the school and create a more inclusive environment. One common Whole School Engagement Events is Spread the Word, a campaign that focus is to illuminate the understanding of the power of language and the derogatory connotations of the “R” word and the message of inclusion and acceptance. Another common event is Fans in the Stands, where students organize a pep rally (or add to an existing one) to draw attention to an upcoming IUS Unified Sports competition hosted by their school. The goal for this event is to mobilize strong student body support and increase attendance at the upcoming IUS Unified Sports Competition.  Check out some of the Whole School Engagement projects our schools have done for various events!

Unified Champion Schools:

For more information about our school programs and to learn how you can get YOUR school involved, please contact Mike Jordan

High Schools
  • Abraham Lincoln High School (2018)*
  • Audenreid Charter High School
  • Benjamin Franklin High School
  • Frankford High School
  • Furness High School
  • George Washington High School (2018)*
  • High School of the Future
  • Hill-Freedman World Academy
  • Kensington Health Sciences Academy
  • Kensington High School
  • Martin Luther King High School
  • Northeast High School
  • Parkway West High School
  • Penn Treaty High School
  • Roxborough High School
  • Samuel Fels High School
  • Sayre High School
  • South Philadelphia High School
  • Strawberry Mansion High School
  • Thomas Edison High School

*National Banner School. A National Banner School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement, and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.

Middle & Elementary Schools
  • Andrew Hamilton School (Elementary & Middle)
  • Bache Martin
  • CCA Baldi Middle School
  • Hill-Freedman World Academy Middle School
  • Joseph Greenberg Elementary
  • Lawton Elementary School
  • Loesche Elementary
  • Louis Farrell
  • Middle Years Alternative
  • Pennrose School (Elementary & Middle)
  • Sharswood Elementary
  • Stephen Decatur
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Universal Daroff Charter School (Elementary & Middle)
  • William H. Loesche Elementary School

Some of our School-Based Program photos

Thank you to our UCS sponsors:

The School District of Philadelphia Logo


The Philadelphia Foundation Logo Lincoln Financial Foundation Logo