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Unified Sports


Team sports bring people together. Special Olympics Unified Sports® teams do that, and much more. Half a million people worldwide take part in Unified Sports, breaking down stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities in a really fun way.

Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive sports program that combines an approximately equal number of Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) on teams for training and competition. Three models exist within Unified Sports: competitive Unified Sports, Unified Sports
Player Development and Unified Sports Recreation. All three models provide different types of experiences in team sports such as basketball and football and in other sports such as bocce and golf. 
Athletes feel a sense of belonging when participating in Unified Sports; they can meaningfully interact with others, develop mutually rewarding relationships, are recognized as contributors and are received with acceptance and respect.

The Special Olympics New Zealand Board recently approved our organisation to pilot the Special Olympics Unified Sports®  programme here in New Zealand. Six Special Olympics Clubs are currently involved in the pilot with these Clubs focussing initially on bocce and golf, other sports will be added as the programme progresses. 
On 22 March 2014 Special Olympics Wellington held the first unified competitive competition, a one-day bocce tournament in which twelve teams competed, including four Unified teams. The tournament was a huge success and has laid the foundations for a very successful Unified Sports programme in New Zealand. 

Special Olympics New Zealand has a number of athletes who train and compete with mainstream clubs as well as Special Olympics New Zealand clubs (primarily in basketball, athletics and swimming). The Unified Sports creates more opportunities for athletes to train and compete alongside people who don’t have an intellectual disability.

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