Chugiak, Eagle River recognized for work with Special Olympics

Thursday, September 5, 2019 - 12:37

Chugiak and Eagle River were among four Alaska high schools to receive national banner recognition for efforts to provide “inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities.”

The local schools were joined by East and West High.

“These schools are receiving this honor as a result of meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect,” according to a press release about the recognition.

The schools are among 173 nationally to receive the distinction. They’ll receive a banner to hang in the school during a special presentation that has yet to be scheduled.

Here’s the complete press release:

Anchorage, AK, September 3, 2019 – Choose to include is the mission of four local high schools as they receive national banner recognition for their efforts in providing inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities. The four high schools are: Chugiak High School, Eagle River High School, East Anchorage High School and West Anchorage High School. These schools are receiving this honor as a result of meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect.

West Anchorage High School has been selected to the ESPN Honor Roll 2019 as a top 34 Special Olympics Unified Champion school. This makes West Anchorage High School the second school in Alaska to receive this distinct honor with Robert Service High School being in the first class for ESPN’s Honor Roll last year.

These local high schools will be amongst 173 schools to receive this distinction nationwide. They will be presented with a banner to hang in their school and be included on a list of other schools around the country who have achieved this distinguished status. Local banner presentations will be announced once scheduled.

More than 80 schools are currently participating in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming in Alaska, as part of more than 6,000 schools across the country engaged in the program. Special Olympics has a global goal of creating 10,000 Unified Champion Schools by 2020.

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools model is supported by the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. This model has been proven, through research, to be an effective and replicable means to providing students with and without disabilities the opportunity to form positive social relationships and promote a socially inclusive school climate*. Key data points include:

• 84% of students regard participation in the program as a turning point in their lives.

• 72% of involved teachers believe participation in the program has increased the confidence of students with disabilities.

• 88% credit the program with reducing bullying and teasing in their schools.

A Special Olympics 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 commitment to inclusion by meeting

10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.

The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. National banner schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.

*Evaluation conducted by the Center for Social Development and Education (CSDE) at the University of Massachusetts Boston

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