3 Montana Schools Receive National Recognition for Commitment to Inclusion  

3 Montana Schools Receive National Recognition for Commitment to Inclusion  

3 Montana Schools Receive National Recognition for Commitment to Inclusion  

Special Olympics International recently announced that Polson Middle School, Gallatin High School and Bozeman High School have achieved National Banner School status for their work and commitment to providing inclusive programming for students with and without intellectual disabilities in their schools.  

 The goal of Special Olympics Unified Champions Schools (UCS) is to create a more inclusive environment for students with intellectual disabilities. Schools that register to be a Unified Champion School are committing to 3 components of the program: whole school engagement, inclusive leadership, and Unified sports. These 3 schools have not only achieved success with these 3 components, but they have gone even further to create a climate of inclusion in their schools and to be honored at such a level as being recognized as a UCS National Banner school.   

 According to Special Olympics’ website, “A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.”  School staff completed a lengthy application and verification process. It was reviewed at the state level and ultimately by a national board of reviewers. 

 Jeannette Gray, UCS Senior Director for Special Olympics Montana, commented that this recognition is a huge deal for these schools. “Only 68 schools in the country were chosen this year for National Banner School recognition.  For the first time ever, schools in Montana were chosen.  This shows the level of commitment and dedication our schools have shown to promoting social inclusion where all students are welcome and included.” 

 All three schools will hold this title for 4 years and will continue to lead the way in inclusion in their schools as well as their communities. After 4 years they will have the opportunity to reapply for National Banner School status. 

 Any school in Montana can become a Unified Champion School to help promote inclusion and respect on their campuses. To learn more about becoming a Unified Champion School, contact Jeannette Gray at jgray@somt.org. 

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