ICI researchers (Abery, Ticha, and Houseworth) have received funding from Special Olympics International, North America, and Minnesota (SOI, SONA, and SOMN) to collaborate on initiatives to develop a holistic pediatric screener of Young Athletes, and to investigate the structure and  implementation of the Unified Champion School Program. This partnership provides a meaningful synergy between ICI's expertise in measure and curriculum development and evaluation and a long-standing and well-recognized Special Olympics movement in supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals with intellectual and/or developmental (IDD) locally, nationally, and internationally. Current and recent projects include:

  • Special Olympics Pediatric Screening and Assessment (Ticha and Abery): Funded by Special Olympics, and in collaboration with Special Olympics International and the Pediatric Screening Task Force, this project develops and pilots a health and development screener for Young Athletes (children ages 2-7 with or at risk for IDD) to help close the gap to ensure all children get the right level of services and supports, regardless of their disability, race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or access to a primary care provider.
  • Evaluation of the Fidelity of MN Special Olympics Unified School Program (Abery, Ticha, and Houseworth; 2019-2020). This evaluation project determined the extent to which the Special Olympics Minnesota Unified Champion School Program (SOMN-USC) is implemented in schools with high fidelity and in a manner consistent with the overall mission and vision of the program and organization. ¬†The project assessed five aspects of program fidelity at three different levels to determine the extent to which program curriculum, training, and implementation support intended outcomes. The project led to recommendations to SOMN about implementing the USC program to improve outcomes for students with and without disabilities.
  • Determining the Critical Components of the Minnesota Special Olympics Unified Champion School Program (Abery, Ticha, and Khuu; 2021). This project builds on the previous collaboration that focused on fidelity of implementing the Minnesota Special Olympics Unified Champion School Program (SOMN-USC). This project investigates the critical components of the USC Program from the perspectives of different stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and students. The project will help identify the program's most important components to assure that the mission and vision of SO and UCS are reflected in program delivery and that students with and without disabilities, their teachers, and coaches experience USC as conceptualized.
Brian H Abery, Renata Ticha
Brian H Abery, Renata Ticha
Special Olympics Minnesota, Special Olympics North America, Special Olympics International
Special Olympics International


Brian H Abery :: Research Manager 3


James Houseworth :: Research Associate

Belle P Khuu :: Post-Doctoral Associate

Renata Ticha :: Senior Research Associate


  • Community life
    • Friendships and social relationships
    • Recreation and leisure
    • Social inclusion
  • Specific life stage
    • Children
    • Adolescents and young adults
  • Health and safety
    • Health and wellness


  • Evaluation