Half Hollow Hills Debuts Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Teams – Both High Schools To Offer These New Team Sports
DIX HILLS, NY, March 1, 2018 – Both high schools in the Half Hollow Hills Central School District will be offering Special Olympics Unified Sports basketball teams for the first time this spring. The programs at Half Hollow Hills High School East and High School West will be open to boys and girls from 9th to 12th grade, and will compete with teams from other schools on Long Island. Interested families are encouraged to attend an informational meeting at the High School East main gym at 6 p.m. on March 6.
Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, making practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for everyone involved.
“Young people with disabilities all too often do not get an opportunity to play on their high school sports teams,” said Deb Ferry, athletic director at Half Hollow Hills. “We are proud to be adopting the Unified Sports approach that Special Olympics pioneered, which promotes social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences.”
According to Special Olympics, 82% of family members who have a child in Unified Sports reported that their athletes displayed improvements in self-esteem. 83% of the athletes surveyed reported having more friends without intellectual disabilities after participating in Unified Sports, and 85% of the athletes reported that they exercise more each week as a result of participation in the program.
Ferry added, “The statistics speak for themselves. The benefits of these programs are far-reaching and significant.”
About 1.4 million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes about people with intellectual disabilities in a really fun way. The program empowers individuals with and without intellectual disabilities to engage through the power of sports.
Unified Sports is an integral part of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, which was founded in 2008 and funded through the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education to use Special Olympics as a way to build inclusion and tolerance in schools. They are now in more than 4500 elementary, middle and high schools in the United States. To learn how to get involved, visit: www.playunified.org