PlayVS, the leading amateur esports platform and operator of official state high school and national college esports leagues across the United States and Canada, announced an official partnership with Special Olympics North America. The initiative will focus on growing Special Olympics Unified esports, which combines students with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and students without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners) on inclusive esports teams. Through the strategic and innovative collaboration formally kicking off this fall, PlayVS will serve as the official high school esports league operator for Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® in the United States.
“Partnering with Special Olympics North America and being able to provide esports to a whole new group of students speaks true to our core vision at PlayVS,” said Delane Parnell, founder and CEO of PlayVS. “Our pilot season together proved to be mutually beneficial for us all and marked the beginning of a great new relationship. With the values of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools aligning perfectly with that of PlayVS, working together was a natural fit and ensured great compatibility amongst our teams and goals.”
With social inclusion being a top priority for PlayVS, this partnership further reinforces the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion for all of its users. Similar to the company’s Game Changers initiative, which empowers women in esports and motivates them to pursue careers in gaming and tech, the collaboration with Special Olympics North America seeks to provide a platform that grants access to esports to everyone without exception. In addition, such a partnership will help further the goal of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools that is to provide inclusive sports, activities, and youth leadership opportunities for students of all abilities within the nationwide network of partnered schools.
“We are thrilled to partner with PlayVS, who is a clear leader in the space of interscholastic high school esports,” said Tony Wyllie, President & Managing Director for Special Olympics North America. “This collaboration will create a fully inclusive space for students to flourish, make friends, and feel a new sense of school pride.”
“The NFHS/NFHS Network is so pleased to see two of our great mutual partners come together to make esports even more inclusive and accessible to students around the country,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director. “We stand ready to support both companies in this great team effort and share our congratulations to Special Olympics and PlayVS on this newly expanded partnership.”
During the 2020-21 school year, PlayVS and Special Olympics North America ran a successful pilot league that included over 40 Unified teams from nine different states competing in Rocket League. Moving forward, PlayVS will provide the platform and support for a dedicated Unified esports league at no cost to Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools and students. Sixteen Special Olympics North America state Programs have registered to participate in Spring 2022, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
For more information on PlayVS, please visit: https://www.playvs.com
For more information on Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools, please visit GenerationUnified.org.