Bishop Hendricken was recently named a Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion school for its work with its unified sports teams and the Special Olympics.
Schools that received this recognition were required to meet 10 standards set by the Special Olympics.
One of which was excellence within unified sports. Unified sports pair student-athletes with developmental disabilities with students that do not have disabilities, and they work together as a team against other schools. Schools must also demonstrate a strong system for inclusive youth leadership, as well as a plan for future sustainability.
“We applied through Special Olympics last spring and had to show how we met the 10 standards of excellence as a school community. The 10 standards fall under the categories of Unified Sports, Inclusive Youth Leadership, Whole School Engagement and Sustainability,” said Hendricken math teacher Allison Shank, who also coaches the school’s unified sports teams and coordinates the Special Olympic games held at Hendricken.
Shank feels that it is also important for private schools to strive for inclusiveness, and that Hendricken’s Catholic values have helped open the door for other religious schools to make their mark in the Special Olympics community.
“I believe that the main aspect that separates us from other schools is our Catholic identity,” said Shank. “We are the only Catholic school in the area that has an Options Program and I believe we are the first Catholic high school to receive this National Banner honor.”
The Hendricken community is proud to receive the recognition, and to follow the mission of the school when it comes to spirituality and inclusion.
“This is a big honor for our school to receive this recognition. We are living our school’s mission of inclusion to educate all young men and developing the spirit of the Hendricken man … heart, mind, body and soul,” said Shank.
Shank also hopes to see the school’s unified programs continue to grow, whether it be in sports or in the arts.
“We would love to add additional unified sports and grow our unified theatre program,” said Shank.
Hendricken offers unified volleyball in the fall and unified basketball in the spring. Hendricken captured state titles in volleyball in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The Hawks won the unified basketball state championship in 2011. Unified sports were first introduced by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League back in 2010.