ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Kindness. Acceptance. Inclusion. Nowhere in Anne Arundel County is this more visible than in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools Unified Sports Programs and nowhere is it better showcased than in Annapolis High Schools and North County.
For their consistent demonstration of inclusive practices, both schools were named 2022 Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, an honor earned by just three schools in Maryland and 166 nationwide.
“We can’t really be great until we include everyone,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr Mark Bedell. “Annapolis and North County – and our athletics program as a whole – are shining examples of the power of inclusion and we should all strive to follow their lead.”
With the motto “Choose to Include”, the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program aims to promote social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting system-wide change and creating climates. schools where students with disabilities feel welcome and are regularly included. participate in and feel part of all activities, opportunities and functions.
AACPS offers three year-round unified sports programs – tennis (fall), bowling (winter), and bocce (spring) – in which student-athletes with disabilities and their non-disabled peers work side-by-side in sports competition.
The program enables all student-athletes to learn and demonstrate good sportsmanship, develop positive self-esteem, learn sport-specific skills, improve physical fitness, build new friendships and to develop and improve the concept of teamwork.