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Ithaca Unified Sports Programming

Unified Sports basketball team
In 2018, Ithaca and 15 neighboring districts partnered with Special Olympics New York and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHAA) to bring Unified Sports to our region.

Through Unified Sports, students with and without intellectual disabilities have opportunities to train and compete together on various sports teams in an effort to promote social inclusion and youth leadership and to build a greater sense of community in schools.

During the first year of the program, Ithaca rostered a Unified basketball team and formed a Youth Activation Committee (YAC), a group of student leaders invested in enhancing the visibility of the Unified Sports program and increasing inclusion throughout the district. Thanks to the work of the YAC, Ithaca’s Unified basketball team grew from 9 students to 25 students in just one year, and the following year, with awareness and interest continuing to build, Ithaca was also able to add a Unified bowling team to its program.

In September 2020, Ithaca High School was named a national banner Unified Champion School in recognition of its commitment to inclusion and youth leadership. Two months later, Ithaca's Unified program was named to the ESPN Honor Roll, making it one of the top programs in New York State.

“If you want to see what true acceptance and inclusion looks like, walk the halls of Ithaca High School or go to one of its Unified games,” Special Olympics New York President and Chief Executive Officer Stacey Hengsterman said. “Unified Champion Schools are changing a generation, and Ithaca has proven to be among the best of the best.”

To learn more about Ithaca's Unified Sports program, follow @IthacaUnified on Twitter!