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Nonnewaug Named a Special Olympics Unified Champion School

WOODBURY – Nonnewaug High School received the U.S. Special Olympics National Unified Champion School award and banner recognizing the Unified Program and the overall sense of community and inclusive atmosphere that exists at Nonnewaug.

The award was given at a Unified Leadership Summit on November 30.The banner was displayed at the Board of Education meeting on December 3.

The program, now in its 12th year at NHS, brings students of all abilities together in various activities including basketball and volleyball. There is also a unified buddies club where kids are able to form bonds with others they might not have otherwise gotten to know.

The programs are overseen by teachers John Dominello and Connor Gereg.

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change.

With sports as the foundation, the three component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.

This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement. The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners.

What a Unified Champion School looks like can vary greatly from school to school, based on the needs, goals, schedules and other factors unique to each school; but the basic building blocks remain the same.

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