Through the partnership with the Cleveland Browns and Play 60 in association with University Hospitals, Special Olympics Ohio has been able to create a sustainable football skills model that will be used for seasons to come. The Cleveland Browns are providing a three-week video skills session for Special Olympics athletes featuring Browns Alum Josh Cribbs. In addition to the videos, individual football kits will be given to students to help them focus on skill development while Unified Sports are delayed due to COVID-19. Through the partnership, kits were distributed to over approximately 230 athletes representing 15 high schools in Northeast Ohio and included a Special Olympics and Browns backpack, football, cones, mask, hand sanitizer, inclusion bracelet, agility ladder, shirt and skills packet.
In 2019, the Browns partnered with Special Olympics Ohio to create the first NFL sponsored Unified Sports League. The league consisted of seven Northeast Ohio high schools – Max Hayes, Lincoln West, John Marshall, Lorain, Avon, Rocky River and Avon Lake. This season Unified Sports flag football will reach eight additional high schools from the inaugural season in 2019.
The three-week skills season will start January 25, 2021 and last until February 12, 2021. The model created will be expanded from an individual skills kit to a classroom kit to ensure sustainability for the seasons to come. In the future, these classroom kits will be utilized with the younger student population (K-8) to begin preparing the necessary skills to compete on the High School Unified Flag Football team.
"It is because of partners like the Cleveland Browns that Special Olympics Ohio's mission for inclusion has become a reality. The UNIFY CLEVELAND movement has expanded and will continue to stay relevant through this partnership. On Behalf of all the Special Olympics Ohio athletes and partners, I would like to personally thank the Cleveland Browns for their continued support and we are looking forward to next season!" – Josh Messersmith, SOOH Director of Fitness and Unified Strategies
To learn more about Special Olympics Ohio Unified Champion Schools, please visit sooh.org/unified-sports.
About Browns Play 60:
The Browns PLAY 60 movement, contributing to the NFL's nationwide initiative to promote youth health and wellness by getting active at least 60 minutes each day, is in association with University Hospitals. The Browns actively bring PLAY 60 to the local community throughout the year to ensure kids and families are learning about and taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle.
Special Olympics Ohio Unified Sports:
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive program which combines individuals with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and individuals without intellectual disabilities (partners) on sports teams for training and competition. Athletes and partners compete alongside one another, each in a meaningful and integral role on the Unified Sports team.
About University Hospitals:
Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 19 hospitals (including four joint ventures), more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system's flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located in Cleveland's University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, a high-volume national referral center for complex cardiovascular procedures; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including "America's Best Hospitals" from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 physicians and employees. Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH's vision for benefitting its patients into the future, and the organization's unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. For more information, visit UHhospitals.org.