Individuals with and without intellectual disabilities from across Minnesota will take the court at Orono Activities Center for the first ever State Unified Basketball tournament.

Twelve high school teams will showcase the power of Unified sports and its ability to break down barriers and create authentic and lasting inclusion. The tournament is on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Orono Activities Center.

Opening Ceremonies, hosted by Eric Perkins of KARE 11 and Crunch from the Timberwolves, begins at 8:30 a.m. with tournament play from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Participating high school teams include: Orono, Bemidji, Watertown Mayer, Shakopee, Minnetonka, Waconia, Stillwater, Fairmont, Nevis, Proctor, Apple Valley, and Minneapolis Roosevelt.

Special Olympics Minnesota’s Unified Schools program seeks to empower youth and educators to be leaders of change in creating a more inclusive world. An important component of Unified Schools is Unified Sports. Unified Sports is an inclusive sports program that unites Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) as teammates for training and competition.

This simple concept provides opportunities for students to gain true friendships and change school cultures towards acceptance and inclusion. There are more than 200 schools in Minnesota implementing Unified Schools programming.

Recent Orono High School graduate Will Larson said: "At my very own Orono High School, our principal describes Unified sports as 'one of the best things that has ever happened to our school.' As a student who is involved with Unified, I can say that it is one of the best things that has happened to me. Through Unified sports, I have had a complete shift in my mindset on acceptance and inclusion."

Special Olympics Minnesota plans to host the State Unified Basketball Tournament annually and expand to each region of the state.


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