North American amateur esports platform PlayVS has announced an official partnership with Special Olympics North America.
Set to begin this fall, PlayVS will serve as the official high school esports league operator in the U.S. for Special Olympics Unified esports. The initiative will focus on growing the programme, which combines students with intellectual disabilities (Special Olympics athletes) and students without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners) on inclusive esports teams
PlayVS and Special Olympics North America ran a successful pilot league during the 2020-21 school year, which included over 40 Unified teams from nine different states competing in Rocket League.
Moving forward, PlayVS will provide the platform and support a dedicated Unified esports league at no cost to Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools and students.
Sixteen Special Olympics North America state programmes have registered to participate in Spring 2022. This includes Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington, among others.
Delane Parnell, Founder and CEO of PlayVS, commented: “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.
“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.”
According to the release, the partnership is a continued effort by PlayVS to promote social inclusion, which includes its Game Changers initiative and now a collaboration with Special Olympics North America.
Tony Wyllie, President & Managing Director for Special Olympics North America said: “We are thrilled to partner with PlayVS, who is a clear leader in the space of interscholastic high school esports. This collaboration will create a fully inclusive space for students to flourish, make friends, and feel a new sense of school pride.”
The collaboration will also be supported by the NFHS/NFHS Network, where audiences can watch live high school sports and events.
Esports Insider says: The Special Olympics has a long history of offering a sense of pride and accomplishment to the disabled, and esports has the opportunity to do the same. Hopefully, partnerships like this will go a long way to create visibility and empathy for fellow gamers during their vulnerable high school years.