Special Olympics Service Project (A)

9, 10, 11, 12

This lesson will give students hands-on practice applying the concepts of philanthropy and sensitivity.

Lesson Rating 
PrintVaries with Project

The learner will:

  • demonstrate the concepts of philanthropy, tolerance and sensitivity while peer mentoring a student with a disability.
  • Projected copy of Special Olympics Oath (Attachment One)
  • Music from the Rocky Soundtrack
  • Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen
  • Experience Paper Scoring Guide (Attachment Two)
  • Canfield, Jack and Mark Victor Hansen. Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Heath Communications Inc., 1999. ISBN # 1-55874-698-6
  • Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books, 1960. ISBN: 0-446-31078-6


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    As students enter the classroom, have the theme from the motion picture "Rocky" playing. When students take their seats, uncover the Special Olympics Oath (Attachment One): "Let me win! But if I cannot win, Let me be brave in the attempt." Ask for student reactions to the quote. Reveal to the students that this is the oath taken by Special Olympians prior to participating in a Special Olympics Event.

  2. Lead a class discussion on sports. What are the students' favorite sports? What does it take to be a good athlete? List some characteristics or qualities on the board. · Relate this discussion back to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Discuss the questions:

    • What was Jem's favorite sport?
    • Was he successful?
    • What are some barriers that individuals could face to keep them from participating?
    • Discuss the Special Olympics Oath from the Anticipatory Set. How do the Special Olympians deal with success and defeat? Read the excerpt "The Day I Finally Cried" by Meg Hill from the book Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul. Have the class brainstorm ways they could help Special Olympians overcome some of the barriers they face in the world of athletics. List these on the board and discuss.
    • Introduce the experiential component (peer mentoring) from this lesson to the class. Describe the culminating activity (Special Olympics event). Explain how the class, acting as a volunteer group, can act for the common good with this activity
    • Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working. Generate a list of ground rules when working as a peer mentor and a Special Olympics chaperone and get necessary parental permission as required by your district.

Ongoing teacher observation from the English teacher and the Special Education teacher. Ask students to keep a peer mentoring reflection logbook. After each meeting with their peer, the students should write anecdotal notes in their logbooks. As a unit assessment, the students should then write an experience paper giving their thoughts and feelings about the project and unit. Use Experience Paper Scoring Guide (Attachment Two) for the unit assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

The students will work one-on-one with a student having a mental impairment one hour per week for nine weeks (one marking period). The students will then attend a Special Olympics event where they will chaperone their student during the activity, providing support and guidance to the athlete.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.