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Brattleboro Union High School to Receive National Recognition from Special Olympics for Achievement

Special Olympics Vermont has announced that Brattleboro Union High School, a Special Olympics Unified Champion School, is receiving national banner recognition for its efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities. Brattleboro Union High School is receiving this honor as a result of meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy, and respect. Brattleboro Union High School plans to celebrate the award throughout the school year with a kick-off event open to the community in the next few weeks.


Brattleboro Union High School is amongst a select number of schools to receive this distinction. They will be presented with a banner to hang in their school and be included on a list of other schools around the country who have achieved this distinguished status.


“We know the power of the work done through our Unified Champion Schools, because we see it,” said Special Olympics Vermont President and CEO, Missy Siner. “Brattleboro Union High School has provided a wonderful example of the incredible benefits that UCS programming can bring to a school community. At 2022 USA Games, Brattleboro represented Vermont in the Youth Leadership Experience, and were role models to others participating in the program. The efforts made by Brattleboro to create a safe space of inclusion and acceptance for all students are exceptional and we are so glad they are receiving this deserved honor."


Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® is a strategy for schools Pre-K through university that intentionally promotes meaningful social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities to create accepting school environments, utilizing three interconnected components: Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement. Brattleboro Union High School currently participates in Unified basketball, bocce, snowshoeing and soccer, and is looking to expand their offerings this school year. Brattleboro has also graciously hosted numerous state-wide events including VPA Unified Basketball and recreational bocce tournaments.


"When I first started at BUHS, I was so impressed by the organization and school-wide support of our unified sports teams,” said Brattleboro Union High School Interim Principal, Cassie Damkoehler. “Previous administrators worked to incorporate unified games into the daily schedule when possible. This helped to create the amazingly inclusive culture that we have here at BUHS. This award is really a testament to the hard work of our staff and student body."

Brattleboro Unified Pair with Tim Shriver at the Youth Leadership Experience at the 2022 USA Games.


About Unified Champion Schools

More than 80 schools currently participate in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming in Vermont, as part of more than 8,000 schools across the country engaged in the program. Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools aims to expand to 10,000 schools by the end of the 2023-2024 school year.


The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools model is supported by the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education. This model has been proven, through research, to be an effective and replicable means to providing students with and without disabilities the opportunity to form positive social relationships and promote a socially inclusive school climate*. Key data points include:

  • 96% of teachers/school staff say the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program increases opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities to work together.

  • 96% of involved teachers believe participation in the program has increased the confidence of students with disabilities.

  • 92% credit the program with reducing bullying, teasing, and offensive language.


A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement, and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.


The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement. National banner schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.


*Evaluation conducted by the Center for Social Development and Education (CSDE) at the University of Massachusetts Boston


About Brattleboro Union High School

Brattleboro Union High School (BUHS) is a comprehensive public school in Vermont that serves the towns of Brattleboro, Vernon, Guilford, Dummerston, and Putney. BUHS has about 900 students in grades 9-12. BUHS’ mission is to provide excellent and varied opportunities in a safe and respectful school so that all students reach their fullest potential. Brattleboro Union High School has been involved with Special Olympics Vermont since 2016. For more information, visit http://buhs.wsesdvt.org/

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