Julian Middle School has been named a Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School for its efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities. Julian is one of just four schools in Illinois and 131 schools nationwide to receive the distinction due to its success in meeting the national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect. The school will receive a national recognition banner during an award presentation that will take place sometime this fall.
"Being recognized as a Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School is a great honor and tremendous accomplishment for Julian Middle School,” said Principal Todd Fitzgerald. “I am so proud of our students and staff, and greatly appreciate how hard they have worked to make our school a welcoming and inclusive place for every child we serve.”
A Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated a commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence that were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
National banner schools must also demonstrate that they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.
Julian currently has Unified Sports teams for soccer, basketball, rhythmic gymnastics, track and golf. In addition, the school’s Unified Champion Sports Committee works in tandem with the Best Buddies program, which was named the 2018 Middle School Chapter of the Year by Best Buddies Illinois. This committee meets every two weeks to plan events and initiatives to improve Julian’s level of inclusion and respect, including a school-wide “Respect Week” that features an ability advocate guest speaker and a community basketball game with Special Olympics athletes and members of local law enforcement.
There are currently more than 6,000 schools across the country that participate in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming, including 400 in Illinois. Special Olympics has a global goal of creating 10,000 Unified Champion Schools by 2020.
About Special Olympics Illinois
Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 18 sports for more than 23,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and nearly 20,000 young athletes ages 2 to 7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Its programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support. You can access additional information about Special Olympics Illinois by visiting www.soill.org.