“Unified has transformed the culture of this school. It was almost as if these kids weren’t noticed before we began doing this. I don’t think anyone realized how powerful they are.”

“Our athletes have an unconditional appreciation for other people. They persevere even in the face of being bullied and teased. We can pull back the veil of the unknown and make people real.”

Born of the idea that athletic events can be especially transformative when they include individuals who have special needs alongside those who do not, unified programs have existed about two decades. In 2008, with money from the federal Department of Education, the Special Olympics began putting the programs into schools.