We continue this month’s focus on Unified Sports with a blog from Unified Partner (and National Youth Activation Committee member) Courtney Neil – she shares her personal story about the benefit of Unified Sports participation.
Like any kid, I was brought up in a world of sports that centered on winning, competition, and giving it your all, but something that set my sporting experiences apart from the rest is my participation with Special Olympics.
When I first tell people about my involvement with the group, it usually follows with a double take, or a question like “Oh, what problems do you have?” but I participate a little differently:
I am a Unified Partner.
I have competed with Special Olympics for 11 years and absolutely love it. I compete alongside my older sister Alyssa who is much more than my teammate. She’s my inspiration and my daily reminder to never take anything at face value. Unified Sports have definitely helped me in that as well.
Unified Sports puts individuals with and without disabilities together on teams to compete in various sports. It shows you that a person’s ability level has nothing to do with their ability to play a sport and do it well. It teaches compassion and understanding in a way that can’t happen in any other atmosphere. You and your teammates are working as a team to accomplish something, and like any other sports team, you build a positive relationship that’s unlike any other. You learn to give people the chance to prove themselves without judging them right off the bat and learning to trust a person and their skills without reservations.
Being involved in such an amazing organization and just playing sports has opened up a world of opportunity for me. I have been exposed to all different types of people that I may not have met otherwise and made real friendships that will withstand anything. Unified Sports has brought me so much closer to my sister and really helped me understand her and where she’s coming from.
If we weren’t involved with our state Special Olympic Program, I know we wouldn’t be as close as we are right now, and we have Special Olympics to thank for that.