Helena Schools Recognized Nationally for Work Towards Inclusion

Helena’s Capital High School and Carroll College have been recognized by Special Olympics North America for their work towards inclusive programming for students with and without intellectual disabilities.  

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools (UCS) program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement.  

Helena High and Carroll College have achieved, and exceeded, these 3 components to be recognized at an even higher level: National Banner Unified Champion School. Achieving the title of a UCS Banner school demonstrates commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence. 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. Banner Unified Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.  

School staff completed a lengthy application and verification process. It was reviewed at the state level and finally by a national board of reviewers.

Jeannette Gray, UCS Senior Director for Special Olympics Montana, says this recognition shows the level of commitment and dedication our schools have shown to promoting social inclusion, “Only 166 schools in the entire country were chosen this year for National Banner School recognition. This is only the second year for schools in Montana to be chosen. This shows the level of commitment and dedication our schools have shown to promoting social inclusion where all students are welcome and included.”

The schools will hold this title for four years and will continue to lead the way for inclusion in their schools as well as their communities. After that time, they will have the opportunity to reapply for National Banner School status.

Any school in Montana can become a Unified Champion School which builds on Special Olympics’ values, principles, practices, experiences and impacts to shape a generation that welcomes everyone. To learn more about becoming a Unified Champion School, contact Jeannette Gray at jgray@somt.org.