For Students

How to Get involved

For more information about our Medical Form and Class A Information please follow the links below:
Special Olympics Honor Cord Program

Special Olympics Illinois is a global leader in shaping a culture where people with and without intellectual disabilities are fully integrated into the community by providing year round opportunities in competitive sports, health education, leadership and personal development. Through sports young people are agents of change to make a difference in building relationships, promoting inclusive school environments and communities.

The Special Olympics Illinois Honor Cord Program is designed to recognize and honor a student’s dedication, hard work, and commitment to be part of leading the next Generation Unified. Upcoming graduating high school seniors are eligible to receive the Special Olympics Illinois honor cords prior to their high school commencement ceremony to commemorate their hard work and dedication to Special Olympics Illinois and Unified Champion Schools. In order for a student to be considered for this honor program please fill out the following fields below with the appropriate demographic information, submit a headshot, and attach an essay detailing how Special Olympics Illinois and Unified Champion Schools have impacted your high school career and how you plan to #Choosetoinclude.  Be sure to mention roles and moments where you contributed to Special Olympics Illinois as a volunteer, Athlete, or Unified Partner. Dive deep and share your future endeavors to promote courage, teamwork, and being part of the #inclusionrevolution!

Please submit all necessary information no later than November 10, 2023 for winter commencement and April 26, 2024 for spring commencement.  All entries received after these dates will not be taken into consideration.  If selected you will receive a notification and a date of when you will receive your honor cords prior to your commencement. Thank you for all of the contributions that you have made during high school career and look forward to seeing you be a leader in the #UnifiedGeneration!

To submit your application for the Special Olympics Illinois Honor Cord Program, please click here!

YAC Application and Information

Special Olympics believes that through sports young people can make a difference in friendships, schools and communities. Unified Champion Schools is youth driven, with a Youth Activation Committee (YAC) made up of young people representing middle schools, high schools and colleges statewide. Members of the committee will work together over the course of the year to develop strategies promoting school communities where all young people are agents of change. During their time on the committee, YAC members will provide leadership to Special Olympics Illinois and Unified Champion Schools by participating in Special Olympics events, providing advice and counsel on strategies to reach other youths, engaging in and promoting Special Olympics activities in their home environments, communicating and networking via Web connectivity with other youth around the country, and reviewing UCS materials for innovation and viability. Would you like to be a member of this committee?

College Inclusion Council Application and Information

The UCS College Inclusion Council is a group of college students from all over Illinois that work to engage their College Campuses in the UCS Strategy.

IHSA SOILL Youth Leadership Certification

The IHSA SOILL Youth Leadership Certification is an opportunity for you to enhance your leadership skills while learning how to further unify your school. Find your voice and get inspired with this 10 course, 8 month self-driven opportunity!

View this flyer for more information!

Click here to register!

Choose to Include Scholarship Information

Every Spring, the Choose to Include Scholarship opens for rising Freshman through Seniors in High School. This scholarship, a total of $500 per recipient, recognizes students across the state, with and without disabilities, that have worked to demonstrate commitment to building an inclusive community and/or bullying prevention in their school and community. Applicants must be sponsored by a member of staff or faculty at their High School, by Special Olympics Illinois, or by a parent of a Special Olympics Illinois Athlete.

Applications are accepted all year and are reviewed after April 15th. Click here for more information!

What is Change for Champions?

Change for Champions is a joint Special Olympics and school program to increase funds for both Special Olympics Illinois and your school program or club! Your school can run Change for Champions at any time of the year. Money raise should be split 70-30 meaning 70% goes as a donation from your school to Special Olympics Illinois and 30% stays with your school program or club!

Interested in hosting Change for Champions at your school? Contact us at today!

National Inclusive Schools Week

National Inclusive Schools Week is an annual event held during the first full week of December. This year, NISW will be celebrated December 6 through December 10. As resources become available, we will notify your teachers and update this website!

Be on the lookout in October for more information!

Respect Week

Special Olympics Illinois Respect Week is held each year during the first week in March. In 2022, Respect Week will be held February 28 – March 4 statewide. Schools are invited to celebrate whenever fits their school schedule best!

One of the best parts about hosting a Respect Campaign of any kind, including a Respect Week, is that it can be adapted to any school environment, schedule, and culture.

We announce our Respect Theme each year at the end of October and will be sharing all of our engagement opportunities that will take place during Respect week on this website and with teachers in November.

Work with your school to plan your Respect Campaign events today! Questions on how to get started or about what other schools have done? Contact us at for help!

Outreach Opportunities

To further support your school’s Unified School programming efforts, Special Olympics Illinois will provide a limited number of Outreach Opportunities for students and staff to activate innovative projects that involve Special Olympics Unified Schools® at their school.  For 2022  we have allocated over $60,000 worth of funding to be distributed directly to schools. These projects can include, but are not limited to: Unified Sports, events that promote respect, R-word activities, Get Into It activities, transportation to and from a statewide Unified event, or other creative projects.  Projects must be pre-approved by Special Olympics Illinois.

The application process for Outreach Opportunities is changing this year! Applications are due for review by the 30th of each month. Special Olympics Illinois will review all applications by the 5th of each month with notifications going out to applicants by the 10th of each month. Explanation for financial distribution will be communicated to each applicant upon approval. Schools are allowed to apply for multiple Outreach Opportunities a YEAR!  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to benefit Unified Programming in your school!

Apply for your Outreach Opportunity Here!

If you have questions on Outreach Opportunities please email

Generation Unified is a site created for students, by students! It contains videos, games, stories, and so much more! Scroll through and see what great things the Unified Generation is doing all over the country!

Check out Generation Unified here!