Jeffrey Elementary Named Unified Champion School

Jeffrey Elementary School made a bit of history this week, becoming one of the first elementary schools in the state to be named a Unified Champion School. The designation comes with a $1,000 grant from Special Olympics Connecticut that the school will now use to support and build upon existing Unified Sports programs.

Unified Sports is an inclusive program that brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities on a sports team. Jeffrey Grade 1 Special Education teacher Lisa Aronson led the charge in applying to become a Unified Champion school. Aronson said typically this designation is only handed out to middle and high schools (Danial Hand High School is a Unified Champion School) but when Special Olympics opened it up for elementary schools too, she knew she had to apply.

“I thought this is great maybe we can get this wonderful designation and it would allow us to get some funding too through Special Olympics through this program,” she said. “

Currently, Jeffrey has a Unified Sports team for grades 2-3, a Young Athletes program for grades K-1, and all clubs at the school are inclusive. Unified Sports at the elementary level is a bit different – athletes learn skills for a variety of sports rather than compete in just one. Aronson said the idea is for this age group that Unified be non-competitive and about building skills and friendships.  

The grant money will help cover shirts for the team, transportation events, and equipment. Aronson said the grant money can also help with things like awareness initiatives at the school.  

 “Some new things we want to add around our unified team is we want to have a pep rally for them and we already have a celebration for them but we want to make it a little more school wide and allow them to wear their medals to school the next day and their t-shirts and really celebrate their accomplishments as this team of students with and without disabilities competing together,” she said.

Anyone wanting to learn more about Unified Sports at Jeffrey can contact Lisa Aronson.

Jeffrey Elementary School Unified Sports Team, Madison, CT