‘The true spirit of unified’: Maine South honored by Special Olympics

Park Ridge’s Maine South High School has been honored for encouraging students with and without intellectual disabilities to spend time together.

The school received the Unified Champion Schools National Banner Award from Special Olympics Illinois.

The award is given to schools that meet 10 standards of excellence developed by Special Olympics leaders and the education community, according to a news release.

Maine South’s leadership on the issue “not only highlights their efforts to earn this prestigious award, but is paving the way for successful adoption of this strategy across the entire state,” Pete Beale-DelVecchio, president and CEO of Special Olympics Illinois, said.

“This school embodies the true spirit of unified, understands the importance of community, and continually works toward creating a more inclusive school environment for all,” Beale-DelVecchio added.

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is designed to promote social inclusion in grade schools and at the college level.

The program brings together students with and without intellectual disabilities to create accepting and inclusive environments within education.

The program focuses on unified sports, inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement.

More than 400 Illinois schools have been recognized as Unified Champion Schools.

Maine South recently held an assembly to celebrate the achievement. Local political and municipal leaders were invited to attend.

Maine South High School student Sarah Ellison, center, celebrates the school's recognition from Special Olympics Illinois during a recent assembly. Rich Howe Photography
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