“Choose to include” is the mission of four Alaska schools receiving national recognition for their efforts to provide inclusive activities that team students with and without disabilities together for competition.
Chugiak High School will receive a National Banner Presentation from Special Olympics on Dec. 13 for meeting standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect for those with mental disabilities.
“Chugiak High School is an example of youth with and without intellectual disabilities changing the world through inclusion,” said Special Olympics Alaska Vice President/COO Sarah Arts. “Special Olympics Alaska is proud to partner with schools across the state and Chugiak High School exemplifies the power and impact of that partnership.”
Chugiak is among four high schools in the state and 173 schools nationally to receive this distinction. They will all receive banners to hang in their school and be included on a list of other schools around the country that have already achieved this status.
The other three Alaska high schools are Eagle River, East and West, the latter being selected to the ESPN Honor Roll 2019 as a top 34 Special Olympics Unified Champion school. This makes West the second school in Alaska to receive this honor, along with Robert Service High School which was honored last year.
More than 80 schools are currently participating in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming in Alaska, joining more than 6,000 schools across the country. Special Olympics hopes to establish 10,000 such schools by 2020.
The model has proven to be an effective means of providing students with and without disabilities the opportunity to form positive social relationships. Of participating students, 84% say it was a turning point in their lives. Of participating teachers, 72% believe the program has increased confidence of students with disabilities, and 88% credit the program with reducing bullying and teasing.