• Description

A preliminary report on the evaluation of the Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia Unified Football Pilot Project. There is growing support in European societies for the total inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of the community. Sport provides a means for supporting this integration process. Unified Sports is one mechanism for promoting social inclusion through sport. Unified Sports is a Special Olympics initiative that provides opportunities for sportsmen with and without intellectual disabilities to play on integrated sport teams. This experience allows athletes and partners to develop sport skills, have meaningful competition experiences, and create long lasting friendships. In 2005, Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia developed a school-based pilot project that merged the Special Olympics school curriculum SO Get Into It with Special Olympics Unified Football. The goals of this pilot project were to improve the sport skills, social skills, and self-esteem of students with and without intellectual disabilities. In addition, the project aimed to improve the understanding and acceptance of students without disabilities towards people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia and Special Olympics, Inc., commissioned the Special Olympics Global Collaborating Center (GCC) at the University of Massachusetts Boston to implement a comprehensive evaluation of this pilot project. The findings of this evaluation suggest that this model of Unified football has been successful in promoting social inclusion. Though separated by their educational settings, these students with and without intellectual disabilities have come together on the playing field to learn about sport and one another.