SEATTLE -- These students are playing for Ballard High School's Unified Soccer team; a team made up of students with and without intellectual disabilities.
"Athletes are playing for their school, wearing school colors, wearing their name on the front of their uniform. So being recognized by their peers inside the halls at lunchtime, really powerful," says Joe Hampson, the director of the Project: UNIFY program that Unified Sports are a part of.
The theme of the nationwide project with Special Olympics is inclusion, and over 100 schools across Washington State are participating. That means students with intellectual disabilities and students without are not separated- they're interacting with each other, forming bonds not just as teammates, but as lifelong friends.
"We're seeing in these schools where they have Project: UNIFY that the climate is just so powerful and positive, and it's changing the school climate within all these schools that participate," Hampson says.
The students at Ballard High School were so happy with their Unified Soccer and Basketball teams, they decided fall sports needed a unified team, too, and they formed a Unified Cross-Country team!
To learn more about Project: UNIFY and how to bring it to your school, click HERE.