Project UNIFY - Meet in the Middle
Project UNIFY Meet in the Middle (MiM) is a unique program that is changing the lives of students throughout Texas. Since 2008 the U.S. Department of Education, through Special Olympics, Inc., has awarded funds to Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) to implement MiM in schools, promoting acceptance and inclusion among students with and without intellectual disabilities. Set in a fun, interactive, Unified environment, participants engage in advocacy, friendship, fitness, and sports opportunities – together.
A High Activation program since 2010, Project UNIFY Meet in the Middle has grown exponentially in the number of participating students, campuses, and school districts. Steady growth is expected to continue beyond Year Five of the program.
Project UNIFY emphasizes three core components: Youth Leadership & Activation, Unified Sports, and Whole School Involvement. MiM students participate in a wide variety of activities, from conducting Spread the Word to End the Word awareness campaigns to hosting Unified competitions in a variety of sports. MiM is a student-driven program; each campus forms a Unified Youth Leadership Team whose members consider activity options and recruit new and existing participants to join in planning and hosting events and activities. The constant theme of MiM is inclusion, so students of varying abilities participate in every opportunity as peers and equals, with the goal of forming true friendships and utilizing the unique talents and abilities of each person.
Why Should a School Participate?
The rewards students and teachers experience through MiM are significant. Benefits include character development, leadership, teamwork, improved physical fitness, moral intelligence, and positive impact on school culture (decrease in bullying, increased attendance, and stronger academic performance). Activities may require students to practice academic skills and may help develop skills that meet various IEP goals.
Meet in the Middle runs throughout the academic year, with an open campus registration period each fall. A campus facilitator coordinates the program and acts as a liaison with SOTX staff, but youth ownership of the program is expected, encouraged, and rewarded. MiM participants receive individual incentives throughout the year in recognition of their commitment and effort.
Unified Sports® involve people with and without intellectual disabilities, and they promote inclusion in sports and everyday life.
What are Unified Programs®?
Special Olympics Unified Programs® bring together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to train and compete on the same team. Throughout the year, Unified Partners participate in a variety of sports to improve physical fitness, sharpen skills, challenge the competition and have fun!
Special Olympics adopted Unified Programs® in 1989 to expand sports opportunities for athletes seeking new challenges while dramatically increasing their inclusion in the community. Today, the initiative includes almost all Special Olympics Texas sports. Unified Programs® competitions are an important part of Special Olympics World Games, as well as, local, state and National Games.
Unified Programs® Enables Athletes to:
- Learn new sports.
- Develop higher level sports skills.
- Have new competition experiences.
- Experience meaningful inclusion as each athlete is ensured a valued role on the team.
- Socialize with peers and form friendships as the program provides a forum for positive social interaction between teammates.
- Participate in their communities. More than 3,000 athletes and partners currently participate in Unified® programs in Texas in cooperation with schools, civic associations, Parks and Recreation departments, and other community sports organizations. These partnerships help further include athletes in their community.
Progreso High School
follow us on Twitter: @MiMProgreso1