Unified Sports is a Special Olympics program where students with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete on the same team. Unified Sports was inspired by a simple principle: playing sports together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.
The following recommended safety guidelines have been adapted from the Special Olympics North America Physical Education guidelines and adapted to fit the SPHEReS Safety Guidelines structure.
- On-site supervision is recommended for set up and initial instruction.
- Proximity supervision is recommended following initial skill instruction and after all safety skills have been emphasized.
- Code of etiquette should be taught and enforced (e.g. practicing good sportsmanship and support for both teammates and competitors).
- Group teams based on skill level, if possible.
- Half-court and/or 3-on-3 to decrease the amount of running and increase the potential amount of time with the ball.
- Lower hoop.
- Partner drills or skills contests instead of basketball games while student-athletes are in the learning stage.
- In situations where student’s follow-through could result in contact with an end wall and/or stage, protective padding or gymnasium mats should be placed beyond the ‘key’ area and should extend a minimum of 1.83 m (6’) up the wall from the top of the baseboard (maximum 10 cm (4”) from the floor) and be a minimum of 4.88 m (16’) wide.
- May be played indoors or outdoors
- Playing area should be inspected to ensure it is in good condition and avoid any potentially unsafe terrain or areas. All unsafe clutter or garbage should be removed from the playing area.
- Players and spectators should only walk outside of the playing area, never through a game or through a court.