Thursday, June 20, 2013

SOPA and Philadelphia School District Partner for Unified Sports

Unified Soccer Championship Filmed by PSTV, the Public Educational Channel for the School District of Philadelphia

On Friday, May 31, 2013, Special Olympics Pennsylvania's Philadelphia program partnered with the School District of Philadelphia for an inaugural Unified Soccer Championship held at Frankford Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia. Opening Ceremonies were hosted by Veteran Philadelphia Sports Broadcaster Don Tollefson.

The Championship featured teams from 10 Philadelphia high schools from across the city including: Abraham Lincoln, Edward Bok, Frankford, George Washington, High School of the Future, Northeast, Samuel Fels, Thomas Edison, Boy's Latin and University City High School. Approximately 100 athletes culminated months of preparation for these Unified Games and displayed the "best of the best" during the competition.

The United States Department of Education (DOE) released new guidance to schools and school systems throughout the nation that receive federal aid about the requirements of providing quality sports opportunities for students with disabilities on January 25, 2013. Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that puts athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. This first ever rostered Unified Soccer elective course, developed in partnership between the School District of Philadelphia and Special Olympics Pennsylvania, includes 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. 

Attending the event were special guests from Special Olympics International; Pennsylvania elected and appointed officials; City Council members; dignitaries including Dr. William R. Hite Jr., Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia and Pedro A. Ramos, Esq., Chairman of the School Reform Commission; and administrators and staff from both the Philadelphia School District and Special Olympics Pennsylvania.

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