Two thousand student athletes ranging in age from 13 to 21 and hailing from Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean have arrived in Toronto to take part in the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary 2019 Invitational Youth Games.

Students will compete in athletics, basketball, bocce, floor hockey or soccer, and there are two divisions offered in each sport – traditional and unified.

A traditional division team is comprised of athletes who have an intellectual disability, whereas the unified division team has athletes with and without intellectual disabilities playing together.

“The concept is bringing students together,” says Tom Mandich, head coach and head of physical education at Saint Mary’s High School in Kitchener, Ont. “It’s a great opportunity for students to learn together, to play together and have some fun.”

The Saint Mary’s Eagles have a unified team competing in the Invitational Games this year.

“I think it’s awesome because it gets to have them experience what it’s like to work with everybody else and not just within themselves,” says Max Grominsky, a Grade 11 student at Saint Mary’s. “It gets them out of their comfort zones and working with new people.”

The Invitational Youth Games had their opening ceremonies Tuesday, with the competition running until May 17.