Unified: Beyond the Games

KR Unified and Brentsville District High School Unified Team join together after the game.
KR Unified and Brentsville District High School Unified Team join together after the game.
Mrs. Kasey Willoughby

Kettle Run Unified coaches, sponsors, and players all give their thoughts on the program as well as their experiences following the most recent Unified game. 


Unified is a program started by the Special Olympics. It joins students with and without intellectual disabilities. It was created to stop stereotypes and stigma about intellectual disabilities in a way that could be fun for all involved: Sports! However, it has grown greatly from just sports. It is currently a vast program with over a million participants and eight thousand schools implementing the program. The Unified branch here at Kettle Run was started in 2020.


Story continues below advertisement

Unified had a game recently on February 28th, but not many people know about the program beyond just the games. The sports games may be well known, but Unified is so much more than just basketball; There is a community of people fostering inclusion for all and breaking down barriers between people. Whether it is the sports games, the Unified Club, or the P.E. class, Unified celebrates inclusion and consistently creates an environment where all feel welcome.

Unified has many students of varying abilities who all work to promote inclusion in their school. Many students feel Unified has positively impacted them, whether they joined a few years or a few months ago. The program encourages inclusion and many students testify that it has helped them make friends. 


Unified also gives students opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. Mrs. Willoughby, the sponsor for Unified, says, “They don’t have a lot of opportunities to impress their school.” This helps them to display their talents when they otherwise may not be given such a chance. She also said, “They all have amazing skills, that they get to show off to the school.” Unified helps boost inclusion at Kettle Run as well as letting students with disabilities show off their talents.


Unified’s sports program is a major driving force for inclusion in our school’s community. Unified has a basketball season and they do cheerleading. They also have a bocce tournament and have joined a track meet before. Setting up the game itself involves contacting other schools and getting the principal’s approval for plans. 


Coach Campbell, the coach for Unified, says, “I think that sports is a universal language. It doesn’t matter if you can talk or not, it doesn’t matter if you can walk or not, everybody can speak sports.” Sports is a fantastic vehicle for inclusion and cooperation amongst other peers in school. Ms. Jones is an Instructional Assistant in Mrs. Tobin’s classroom who says, “You can see that they are normal kids just with different disabilities.” Unified sports is one of the most well-known facets of the Unified program, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most important.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Chronicle @ Kettle Run Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content