The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) will partner with Special Olympics Kansas (SOKS) to encourage and develop Unified Bowling through school memberships in Kansas.
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive activities program that combines an approximately equal number of Special Olympics students with intellectual disabilities and students without intellectual disabilities on teams for competition and inclusive activities fostering an environment of social inclusion.
“Unified Sports® creates opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities to participate on school teams with mainstreamed student-athletes,” KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick said. “Adding Unified Bowling as a KSHSAA sponsored championship activity benefits not only the student with disabilities, but just as importantly, the partner students and entire school community.”
Through this partnership, KSHSAA will support and conduct Unified Bowling for member schools with expert guidance from SOKS. This new, statewide program will create opportunities for students across Kansas to have increased opportunities for whole-school meaningful inclusion and leadership activities. Starting with the 2021-22 school year, Unified Bowling will annually begin in Standard Calendar Week #13 and conclude with a state tournament during Standardized Calendar Week #20. Unified Bowling will operate like any other KSHSAA activity with all participants meeting individual eligibility requirements.
“This action by KSHSAA is a recognition that ALL students derive unique benefits from education-based athletics,” said Dr. John Johnson, Shawnee Mission South High School Athletic Director. “We are extremely excited that this action allows more students to represent and compete for their school. The social interaction and life lessons that athletics provide add tremendous value to our students, their families and our community."
“We are extremely thankful to KSHSAA for taking this huge step forward for the inclusion of people with disabilities in interscholastic sports in Kansas,” said John Lair, SOKS President/CEO. “High school sports are a significantly impactful activity for individuals, schools and communities, and now we’ve involved even more people statewide.”