PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Special Olympics Oregon is back in full swing after a hiatus due to COVID and is bringing back a packed calendar of activities.

”We’re so thrilled,” Special Olympics Oregon CEO Britt Oase said. “We’re coming off of a packed fall where we had soccer, volleyball, aquatics and bowling and it was just awesome to see athletes and families connected again and celebrating and state competitions at Providence Park.”

Now, Oase said, the organization is looking forward to winter activities such as basketball, powerlifting and snow sports.

Along with winter activities, Special Olympics Oregon is also hoping to expand its Unified Champion School Program. With 90 schools across the state already participating, SOO’s goal is to have 140 schools participate statewide.

“We create cultures of inclusion and acceptance within schools and we do that using the school as a platform,” Oase said of the Unified Champion School Program. “So, we’ve got basketball and soccer where you combine kids and students that have intellectual disabilities, and they train and play with kids who don’t. And they learn to find what they have in common, they celebrate the things that make them different.”

When students cheer on their school’s unified teams at school assemblies, Oase described the atmosphere as “one of the most magical experiences,” as students celebrate inclusivity.