Crayton Middle School held a formal ceremony November 1 for its recognition by the Special Olympics as a National Banner Unified Champion School. All Crayton students and staff attended the event, wearing shirts with the slogan “Unified Things.”
Richland One is a Unified Champion School District, which means all Richland One schools are engaged in activities with Special Olympics to support an inclusive and collaborative school climate. Unified Champion Schools, like Crayton, that demonstrate commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence receive national banner recognition. Crayton is one of only four South Carolina schools to be awarded the distinction this year.
Crayton principal Angela Burns said the school has developed an inclusive culture since the program launched last year.
“Our students with and without special needs are not only accepted, they’re embraced. They are not only welcome, they are included,” said Burns.
Barry Coats, the CEO and president of Special Olympics South Carolina, helped present the banner to the school. He said Crayton shows a strong example of inclusion for the community.
“ To become a National Banner School means you stand out above the rest,” said Coats. “Crayton is living the word ‘inclusion.’ You’re doing it every day here. You’re carrying it at home with you. You’re carrying it in the community with you.”
The 10 standards of excellence that Crayton met to earn the recognition were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
The primary activities within those standards include Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole-School Engagement.
“When we first introduced ourselves to the Unified P.E. class, we all became friends instantly,” said A.C. Flora High School freshman Beau Lipscomb, who was part of the program at Crayton last year. “ We help them get out, become more social, and have fun.”