Inclusion on a roll unified sports programs in maryland
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Inclusion on a Roll: Unified Sports Programs in Maryland - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Inclusion on a Roll: Unified Sports Programs in Maryland. Group 6 “Saving the Best for Last”. Unified Sports began in Maryland public high schools in 2008 Maryland Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Law

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Inclusion on a Roll: Unified Sports Programs in Maryland

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Inclusion on a Roll:Unified Sports Programs in Maryland

Group 6

“Saving the Best for Last”

  • Unified Sports began in Maryland public high schools in 2008

  • Maryland Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Law

    • Ensured physical education and school athletic opportunities would be offered to students with disabilities

    • Schools must offer at least one varsity sport per season for disabled students

  • Bocce teams have become very popular due to simple rules and adaptability

  • Typically consist of four to eight players per team

    • Half are special education students

    • Half are “unified partners” – students without disabilities

  • Mirrors other sports programs, with supportive teams, friendly competition, and end-of-year celebrations and awards

  • Has grown dramatically over the past five years

  • Includes more than 100 teams from eight counties and 68 high schools

  • Several tournaments per season, with the finals drawing over 90 teams from around the state

  • “This is the March Madness of bocce ball!”

  • Between the three sports (fall tennis, winter bocce, and spring track), over 9000 students with disabilities play interscholastic sports in Maryland

  • Students required to have a 2.0 GPA to participate

  • Comments from Coaches

  • “More than 50 kids participate in our program. Most of the special education students join, but far more partners than athletes.” Math teacher / coach

  • “During practice, everyone comes together to offer support and have fun.”

  • “This is my favorite sport by far. Everyone gets a chance to play, and everyone has a good time.” High School Athletic Director

  • “Students get a lot out of these experiences and it goes a long way in educating students to disability awareness, creating social inclusion, and betters the whole school culture.” Special Olympics Chief Program Officer

  • “Without a doubt, we see students extend their relationships to hallways and in the cafeteria. It’s developed and fostered through practice and competition.”

  • “The fans get into it, too. But the one thing I’ve noticed is the sportsmanship. This sport has better sportsmanship than any other I’ve seen.” Bocce Coach

  • Comments from Student Athletes

  • “I go to every practice and event. I like making friends, having lots of fun, and getting out of the house!” Bocce athlete with Down Syndrome; his sister is an athlete, too

  • “This is my first season, and it’s been fun. I’ve finally found a sport that I like.” Senior bocce athlete, confined to motorized wheelchair

  • “It felt good. We practice and we try hard.” Junior bocce athlete

  • “We won last year, and it was sort of an accident. We came out here, and said ‘let’s just have fun’, and we ended up winning the whole thing.” Senior bocce athlete

Schools award varsity letters in the sport – a first for many of the players.

“I’ve made a lot of new friends; it’s been a great experience.” - Bocce partner

Unified Bocce Tournament held at Urbana High School


Who benefits most from these inclusive sports activities?

What can you do as a general education teacher to champion such programs in your school?


Have you ever volunteered to support Special Olympics? If not, why not this year?

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