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Release: Three more Missouri schools named National Banner Unified Champion Schools

National Banner Unified Champion Schools GFX

JEFFERSON CITY – Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO) is so excited to announce three more schools in Missouri have been named National Banner Unified Champion Schools. Congratulations to Odessa High School, Poplar Bluff High School and Webb City Junior High School for earning this distinguished honor!

To become a National Banner Unified Champion School, these amazing schools had to meet 10 standards of excellence focusing on Unified Sports, inclusive youth leadership and whole-school engagement.

“To be recognized as a National Banner Unified Champion School is the highest of honors!” Unified Champion Schools Specialist Ben Johnson said. “It is an amazing accomplishment and one that deserves to be celebrated by all! As great as it is for each school to be recognized, the commitment to grow the Unified movement by supporting fellow Unified Champion Schools is equally as important.”

Quote from Odessa’s Director of Special Education Elizabeth Fagre:

“National Banner Status means a step toward a Unified Generation for our students, our community and our future. We look forward to continuing to grow opportunities for our students and for students in surrounding communities to help our students feel seen, heard and connected. To receive this honor through Special Olympics Missouri makes us proud of the student-led work that has been done, the support from our incredible community, and the motivation from our staff to make tomorrow better for everyone.”

Quote from Poplar Bluff Co-Treasurer of Unified Champions and Unified Athlete Maison Dennis:

“It means so much to me. I’ve always loved the idea of Special Olympics and what it stands for, so the fact that we got the National Banner Award is such a great accomplishment.”

Quote from Webb City Special Education Teacher Kristin Huff:

“The Unified Champion Schools program has transformed our school culture, uniting us under the motto ‘Together We Can Do Great Things.’ This year, we witnessed not only our students building authentic relationships, but also our dedicated staff coming together to ensure every child feels a sense of belonging at Webb City Junior High. This recognition holds deep meaning for us, as it reflects our unwavering commitment to inclusivity and unity.”

The addition of these three schools now brings the total number of National Banner Unified Champion Schools in Missouri to five. Ste. Genevieve High School was named a National Banner Unified Champion School in 2022, and Festus High School was named Missouri’s first National Banner Unified Champion School back in 2020.

The Inclusion Revolution continues to grow across the country. In 2021, just 68 schools from around the country were recognized as National Banner Unified Champion Schools by Special Olympics North America (SONA). In 2022, that number jumped up to 166. Here is the full list of National Banner Unified Champion Schools for 2023. Click here for more information on how to become a National Banner Unified Champion School!

Special Olympics Missouri

Special Olympics Missouri is a year-round program of sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Thousands of athletes participate in 16 Olympic-type sports throughout the state. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy as they participate in the sharing of gifts and friendship with their fellow athletes, their family and friends and communities across Missouri.

Special Olympics Missouri is proud of our financial health, returning 82% of every dollar back to program services. We are privileged to be recognized with these honors: Better Business Bureau A+ Charity Accreditation, Charity Navigator 4-star rating and Guidestar Gold Level. Special Olympics was also recently named Morning Consult’s No. 4 most trusted nonprofit.

Thank you for trusting us with your donations, volunteer time and your goodwill.

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