Special Olympics of Idaho Partners with Local High Schools for Unified Basketball Tourney

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As the high school basketball season draws to a close, a local partnership is scoring points for inclusion.

Special Olympics of Idaho is partnering with the Idaho High School Activities Association (ISHAA) to orchestrate the second annual Special Olympics Idaho Unified Basketball Tournament. The occasion features high-school teams from across the valley, incorporating students both with and without intellectual disabilities in a friendly tournament that enhances education and promotes inclusion.

“Sports transcends labels. It creates this meaningful environment,” said Shanna Endow, vice president for education and outreach at Special Olympics Idaho. “This initiative is growing around the world. We needed an opportunity to get the public involved.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the event at Mountain View High School on Friday, March 6, where eight teams will be using two separate courts during competition. 

Following the inaugural tournament in 2014, a participating Unified Sports club at a local high school was surprised with a visit from the varsity basketball team, which congratulated participants and presented them with a coveted varsity letter.

“Relationships are created through sports,” Endow said. “This past year, we see that awareness is also transcending the playing field, creating inclusion in the community.”

Along with the tournament this year, many volunteers from local high schools will be helping to run the main event—experiences that Endow said are essential.

“This is how life should be,” Endow said. “We should celebrate and embrace each others’ differences. Let those stereotypes break down.”