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On Friday, May 30, 2014, Special Olympics Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, and the Public Coalition of Charter Schools came together for the 2nd Annual Unified Soccer Tournament to celebrate the culmination of this year’s Unified elective course.
With over 200 athletes and partners in attendance, along with incredible volunteers from TD Bank, Finish Line, and Thomas Edison High School among MANY others, the Unified Soccer Championship was a complete success. Special guests included Superintendent Dr. William Hite, several local councilmen and dignitaries, and our Ceremonial emcees, Jennifer Lewis-Hall and Zach Lashway from PHL17. Director of the Philadelphia Program, Barbara Chavous, and Special Olympics Pennsylvania CEO, Matthew Aaron, both spoke to the crowd and expressed the excitement and joy that this initiative brings to Special Olympics. If the sheer enthusiasm of those in attendance was not enough, 15 computers were donated between the participating schools on behalf of a partnership between Special Olympics PA – Philadelphia and Team Children.
Students from 15 Philadelphia schools played and supported one another as athletes both with and without intellectual disabilities took the field, together. The day was filled with happiness as spectators and participants were able to cheer on teams with SOPA Philly thunder sticks, handcrafted signs, and even let out some additional energy by attending Olympic Town with guest vendors like the Philadelphia Union and PHL17! The success of the day was confirmed when awards and praise were given to the participating schools and students who all roared at the recognition of their accomplishments. Although only one team walked away with the gold, every athlete and partner walked away from the 2nd Annual Unified Soccer Championship as a winner.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. This Unified Soccer elective course includes a curriculum with youth leadership components, anti-bullying elements, and soccer training and competition. The course provides greater access to sports for all students, with and without disabilities.