Edmond North High School becomes Unified Champion School


Samantha Mayer, North Staff Writer

Special Olympics Oklahoma has awarded Edmond North High School the title Unified Champion School. They are the first school to receive this designation in the Edmond Public School district. Schools awarded this title bring together youth with and without intellectual disabilities to promote climates of inclusion, acceptance and respect for all students via education and sports. North has successfully promoted three major aspects of Unified Champion Schools: Unified Sports, Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole School Engagement.

The endeavor to make North a Unified Champion School began two years ago when sophomores Waverly and Samantha Mayer pitched the idea to teachers and the administration. The students have a sister, Mini, who is a Special Olympian at North. They were interested in expanding North’s Special Olympic footprint. The Mayers coordinated Special Education students and built partnerships with clubs like Huskies for Equality and North Athletes to serve as peer mentors. In 2015, the first inclusive activity executed was a two day banner signing event called “Spread the Word to End the Word.” This global awareness effort centered around the R-word campaign, educating the student body on the negative connotations of the word “retard.”

In addition, the Special Olympians began expanding their participation in the Olympic Summer Games held at Oklahoma State University every May. Initially, the Special Huskies participated in bowling and bocce ball, but in 2016 expanded to include golf and several new track and field events.

Last year, more volunteers from the general education community partnered with the Special Education community to serve as peer mentors during Adapted PE classes and worked throughout the spring semester to help coach and prepare the Special Olympians for their Special Games. Huskies for Equality, North athletes, and other volunteers worked with the Special Olympians to create posters, public service announcements, and event footage for the R-Word Campaign as well.

North High School was recognized by Special Olympics Oklahoma as being leaders in encouraging their school to be agents of change and met all the criteria required by the state to be designated the title of Unified Champion School. Rewards for this designation include a financial grant and merchandise for future events and propels them closer to advancing their leadership role throughout the Special Education community locally and hopefully on a national level in the future.

Once a school can sustain the Unified Champion status they are eligible to become a National Banner School of which only three high schools in Oklahoma have been awarded thus far: Catoosa High School, Catoosa, Mustang High School, Tuttle, and Yukon High School, Yukon.

As North leads the way to expand their awareness in special needs programs, the next step would be becoming a National Banner School, which can be achieved by completing the 10 standards of excellence established by Special Olympics Corporate. North is building upon its inclusiveness via education and sports, something it will hopefully maintain and expand upon in the future.


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