ALL MEANS ALL: Spring Woods Recognized As A National Unified Champion School
SPRING WOODS HIGH SCHOOL HAS BEGUN TO RECEIVE NATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR ITS PERSISTENT COMMITMENT TO INCLUSION WITHIN THE REALM OF THE SCHOOL’S ATHLETIC AND ARTS PROGRAMS.
Most notably, SWHS has been honored as a Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School, which is achieved by demonstrating its pledge to include students of all abilities in the campus community, whether it be
through sports or other activities. With that, the Tigers were recently named a National Banner School and received ESPN Top 5 School recognition.
“It is so exciting that the Unified Sports movement is getting more recognition in our area,” said SWHS principal Jennifer Collier. “There are so many valuable components to having Unified Programs on campus, and I feel extremely honored and excited that SWHS is able to showcase the impact that Unified Sports can have on a child, the campus and the community.”
Spring Woods High School is one of five Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools recognized nationally by ESPN. Spring Woods has been a Unified Champion School for four years and competes in 12 Unified Sports including, Unified Football, Cross Country, Track and Field, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, Robotics, Art, Dance and Cheer. The program star ted in 2019 and has grown into the school’s most valued initiative.
“We are proud of how Spring Woods High School has successfully integrated inclusion into every aspect of their campus,” said Special Olympics Texas East Region Associate Executive Director AJ Edenzon. “With this honor, they continue to inspire surrounding schools and districts to build their involvement and engagement with Unified Champion Schools.”
Unified Champion Schools use a unique approach that incorporates Special Olympics Unified Sports (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole School Engagement activities that empower youth to be agents of change in their communities.
Students with and without intellectual disabilities work together alongside educators and administrators to positively impact their school and community. The Special Olympics Texas UCS program is celebrating over 15 years and is active on hundreds of campuses.
“I was inspired to make Unified a big priority because we initially stated as a school that , ‘All means All’, and that was false,” said Collier. “If you had the right skill set or were involved in something, then it didn’t genuinely impact every child on campus. When we began to focus on ways that all kids could be involved at Spring Woods, the statement ‘All means All’ became more powerful.”
Principal Collier ’s initiation of the inclusive program has certainly impacted the students of SWHS and provided countless more opportunities for everyone to be involved as a school community.
“The response to the program is part of the fabric of who we are now,” she said. “Every sport , every club and every organization, builds into this component of the work that they currently do. Everyone at Spring Woods finds value in including others, sharing their gifts with each other, being kind and sharing a genuine love and excitement for sports, arts and being an SWHS Tiger.”
What will the future look like for the Unified Sports program at SWHS?
“Moving forward, I hope that Unified Programming is even more student-led, student-driven,” Collier said. “It is something that will live on, long past my reign as principal at SWHS. When we look back 20 years from now, I hope that we see this movement made a difference in students’ lives and in the community. Furthermore, I also hope that the phrase ‘All means All’ will still be visibly alive and well at Spring Woods.”