Partner Up Power Up With Unified Spartans

Unified Spartans are a group of students with and without intellectual disabilities who collaborate for sports, leadership, community service, and fun school-wide events. The Unified Champion School Program is in its fourth year at Smithfield-Selma Senior High (SSS) and has already been given national attention.

Most recently, Unified Spartans at SSS were seen leading a 30 minute LIVE fitness session on Wednesday, November 17, and Thursday, November 18 to schools across North Carolina. Special Olympics North Carolina began a fitness program in 2020 to support athletes unable to train in person: Partner Up Power Up. As part of the program, groups, such as Unified Spartans lead weekly fitness sessions to schools and Special Olympic athletes across the state. The Unified Spartans have led four sessions since the program began.

In addition to leading sessions, 61 total participants at Smithfield-Selma High have pledged to healthy living by supporting each other in the 10 week program. Daily activities are provided in a playbook. A tracker helps each participant stay accountable. The Zoom sessions promote interaction, even if virtually. It also encourages healthy living by setting health goals such as drinking more water, eating healthier, and getting more sleep. These weekly goals, called Power Ups, help all participants focus on good choices. The incentives include t-shirts, workout equipment, drawstring bags and meal vouchers for a party!

The sessions provide a series of workouts that can be followed by people with and without disabilities. The LIVE sessions start and end with dancing, motivating everyone to just move. Sometimes, participants also have fun dancing between workouts. During the Live Zoom fitness session, Unified Pairs, consisting of one student with intellectual disability and one without, were responsible for announcing, modeling, and encouraging over 500 participants each day. They are further rewarded with incentives, and, most importantly, lasting friendships.

Unified Spartans, with the support of Special Olympics North Carolina, are a part of the global organization of Special Olympics which strives to create a more inclusive and collaborative society through sports, games, and community service.

(Smithfield-Selma Senior High News Release)