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Bemidji High School to receive national recognition from

BEMIDJI — Special Olympics Minnesota has announced that Bemidji 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 intellectual disabilities.

BHS is receiving this distinguished status as a result of meeting 10 national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect. 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 demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.

“Bemidji High School has demonstrated outstanding efforts in their school to create exemplary environments of belonging for all students. The students and teachers at Bemidji High School are true champions of inclusion and deserving of this incredible honor,” said Demaya Walton, Director of Unified Champion Schools at Special Olympics Minnesota in a release.

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. They utilize three interconnected components: Unified Sports, inclusive youth leadership and whole school engagement. As many as 19.5 million young people are taking part in inclusive experiences through Special Olympics.

More than 270 schools are currently participating in Unified Champion Schools programming in Minnesota, as part of 8,300 schools across the country engaged in the program. Unified Champion Schools aims to expand to 10,000 schools by the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

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.

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