Lexington-Richland District Five representatives announced last week that H. E. Corley Elementary School has received a $1,500 Innovation Grant from Special Olympics South Carolina and has been recognized as a Unified Champion School.
According to district officials, the grant money will be used to create a sensory pathway on the school’s playground, providing a safe space for students of all abilities to play and grow alongside their peers of different abilities. The project fits into the Unified Champion School model, allowing the path to serve students for years to come, promoting inclusive play and fostering friendships among different student groups.
“I am overjoyed that H. E. Corley has received an Innovations Grant and has been recognized as a Unified Champion School by the Special Olympics South Carolina,” said H. E. Corley Elementary principal Jason Pollock. “Our partnership with the Special Olympics South Carolina has had a tremendous impact on our school community. Our goal is to ensure that our athletes and their unified peers are included, accepted, and empowered. I am proud of the efforts of all involved faculty and staff.”
There are 265 Unified Champion Schools in South Carolina, but only 16 schools statewide have been awarded Innovation Project Funding by the Special Olympics South Carolina, including Irmo's H. E. Corley Elementary.
“By partnering with schools like H. E. Corley Elementary through the Unified Champion Schools initiative, Special Olympics is able to support activities and projects that break down barriers among different student groups,” said Barbara Oswald, Special Olympics South Carolina Vice President of Programs. “Special Olympics works with Unified Champion Schools to develop opportunities for meaningful inclusion and foster friendships among students of all backgrounds and abilities. The students take these experiences and friendships with them through their education journey and beyond. That is the legacy that we hope to leave throughout South Carolina!”
Special Olympic South Carolina partners with schools across the state through a global movement called Unified Champion Schools. Unified Champion Schools empowers students to be champions of positive change in their school communities and promotes inclusion through a variety of initiatives. Special Olympics South Carolina provides resources, funding and technical support to equip schools with inclusion strategies each year.