Oklahoma State University is expanding its partnership with Special Olympics Oklahoma as it becomes the first Special Olympics Unified College Program in the state and launches unified intramural sports this fall.
Special Olympics college programs connect college students and community members with intellectual disability through shared experiences, building accepting campus communities and friendships that lead to social inclusion. Thanks to a collaboration from the OSU Department of Wellness and the Institute for Developmental Disabilities, Special Olympics athletes can participate in OSU Unified Intramural Sports starting in August.
“We are thrilled about this partnership and the opportunities to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion on the Stillwater campus,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones, Institute for Developmental Disabilities director. “This is another natural expansion of our work at the Institute for Developmental Disabilities where we learn from and work alongside individuals with disabilities and their families.”
Unified intramural teams will include OSU students serving as Unified Partners alongside Special Olympics athletes. Cornhole, esports, bowling and bocce tournaments, a 5v5 Flag Football league, a 6v6 Volleyball league and more will be offered this fall.
“Through this partnership, we are looking to provide an experience for athletes and partners that they might not get anywhere else. We hope to bring people together to play, compete and build relationships with one another through sport and to embody what it is to be an OSU Cowboy,” said Brandon Bermea, coordinator of competitive sports and summer camps in the OSU Department of Wellness.
Recruitment is underway for OSU students and employees to participate as Special Olympics athletes, Unified Partners or coaches during one-day tournaments or league seasons. Those interested are encouraged to fill out this brief form.
The university has a long-standing relationship with Special Olympics Oklahoma. The campus and City of Stillwater have hosted the annual summer games since 1985.
John Seals, Special Olympics Oklahoma vice president of sports and training, said the Special Olympics Unified College Program at OSU will provide opportunities for individuals with and without disabilities to experience belonging and wellness.
“Unified intramural sports at OSU will fulfill a long-term goal of Special Olympics in offering athletes opportunities to participate in an inclusive league alongside their peers and to demonstrate their abilities to a very large audience,” Seals said.