Inclusion efforts earn IHSA honor from Special Olympics
Special Olympics Illinois has named the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) its 2017 "Outstanding Organization of the Year" award for its inclusion of mentally disabled athletes in high school sports.
The IHSA was honored on June 9 before the kickoff of the Special Olympics’ Illinois Summer Games at Illinois State University in Normal. The award recognizes a club, business or group that has improved the experiences of Special Olympics athletes at the local or state level.
The IHSA began its partnership with the Special Olympics to create unified sports and leadership activities, starting with bass fishing. The groups have also worked to create a unified basketball team that started in the 2016-17 season and was done in partnership with the IHSA's Student Activities Commission and the Special Olympics Illinois Youth Activation Committee (YAC).
All unified sports athletes participated in both regional and state competitions, ending with a statewide tournament with awards that was organized and conducted in the same manner as traditional high school sporting events.
The IHSA said it plans to maintain its partnership with the Special Olympics as well as its other partners as it begins to add more programs in the future.