Project Unify: Best Smile Generator Ever (by Kristina Hayward)


Kristina1One of the greatest feelings I have ever experienced is giving back to those that need it most. I signed up to volunteer at the local high school. I was assigned to be a“helper” in the Lifeskills classroom. This class is full of fun loving, curious, and smart kids of all different learning abilities. I had no idea when I began my community service that I would be spending so much time with this class. Nor did I know when I was assigned to volunteer there that I would be so welcomed so quickly into the “family” that these children have created. Since I had no preconceived notion of where I would be assigned in the school I had no idea what to expect. Now that I have been working with these children and teachers I feel very fortunate to be a part of this class and now a part of their unified sports team.

We recently held our end of year banquet to honor the kids and their partners for the excellent job they did this year in Soccer, Basketball, and Track. We are all so proud of these kids and the achievements they have made! This year they won the gold for Basketball at the state Tournament.

I had never heard of Project Unify until I met this amazing group of students. Project Unify helps physically and developmentally disabled kids participate in sports side by side with their abled peers. This is a worthwhile way to give back, and my hope is that this article helps you to chose Project Unify should you be looking for a way to get involved. I encourage all of you to go create lasting memories and more than a few smiles along the way.

A Look at the Research


“Project Unify, Homepage”, Project Unify Oregon; Training For Life. Special Olympics Oregon. Web. 2015.


This site was very informative about the history of how Special Olympics came about and in turn Project Unify. It also gives any information regarding getting your school registered with the Special Olympics of Oregon if they would like to be part of Project Unify and are not currently a part of this amazing organization. There are many helpful tabs to help navigate the site.

To get involved please contact:

~Nancy Keim or
Jill Olson 

~P.O. Box 1203
McMinnville, OR 97128


Quick, Jason. “Trail Blazers Star Damian Lillard Is out to Change The World, One word at a Time.” Oregonlive. The Oregonian, 4 MAR. 2014 Web. 1 June 2015

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Even The Portland Trail Blazers point guard had a change of heart after meeting with and playing alongside some Special Olympics players in college. This article tells how he was changed forever because of his involvement with Special Olympics. This article tells how Damian came up with his “Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.


Project UNIFY Oregon. Perf. Bend High School Lifeskills. Vimeo, 2012. Film

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Don’t just take my word for it. Watch this short video from the kid’s perspective, both disabled and abled. It also gives a look into what it means to all the kids that participate in the program. It is a glimpse into what Project Unify looks like.



  1. Andrew H.

    Kristina, it sounds like you had an amazing experience with your community-themed service! Working with children is rewarding and hugely impacting on their lives. I’m sure they all appreciated the chance to be mentored by you! I’ve never heard of Project Unify prior to reading your blog post but I’m going to keep them in mind as an opportunity to volunteer in the future! Nice job!

  2. Andrew H.

    Also, that is a great video to show how Project Unify works! Very positive and enlightening to those of us who haven’t heard of the project before this. I’ve played sports my whole life and know how great it is when you are able to create bonds with your teammates and those around you who support the teams efforts!

  3. Kristina,
    Great post! That’s very cool that they have such an organization. Your post and subject is very intriguing and I would love to hear more about your personal experience and roll with the children. Also maybe you could talk about how much time is spent with these kids and how others can get involved. Other than that you did a good job at laying your post out and making it very easy to read.

  4. Also, I think the high school that I attended had a program like this. I never took part in it but from what I could see the kids loved it. They always looked so happy and the adults and other kids working with them really enjoyed it as well.

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