The Power of Sports
Help Special Olympics reach out to one more athlete: Donate.
The Power of Sports
1 of 13
When people think of Special Olympics, many think of the World Games held every two years, such as the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece. But the World Games are just a small part of the thousands of events held throughout the year, around the world.
Starting a Movement
2 of 13
As an athlete herself, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver knew from the beginning the power of sport not only to the participant, but also as humanity's greatest equalizer.
Big Benefits Plus Big Fun
3 of 13
Since 1968, the athletes of Special Olympics have shown that sports training and competition benefits people with intellectual disabilities physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Families are strengthened and the community at large, through participation and observation, is united as a place of acceptance and dignity.
More than 30 Sports
4 of 13
Through more than 32 Olympic-type sports, Special Olympics offers people with intellectual disabilities year-round training and competition at all levels of ability. The focus is on achieving a new personal best -- whether finishing a 50-meter walk, or completing the Ironman Triathlon alongside fellow tri-athletes from all corners of the globe.
A Key Difference
5 of 13
The fundamental difference that sets Special Olympics apart from other sports organizations is that athletes of all ability levels are encouraged to participate, and every athlete is recognized for his or her performance. Competitions are structured so athletes compete with other athletes of similar ability in equitable divisions.
6 of 13
Coaches are key to the Special Olympics athlete's success. Special Olympics provides training for coaches that includes skills courses, comprehensive mentoring, coaching tactics and principles, so that the athletes and coaches alike get the highest reward possible from their experience.
Quality Is Important
7 of 13
Sport officials are essential to creating a quality experience for athletes. Officials ensure safe competition, adherence to the rules and integrity of the sport. Every Special Olympics competition begins with an official's oath. Training and certification are offered to anyone wishing to be a sports official.
For The Under-8 Crowd
8 of 13
Special Olympics requires athletes to be at least 8 years of age, but through the Young Athletes program, children ages 2 through 7 can build skills for future sports participation and socialization. Activities strengthen physical development and self-esteem. Family members can get involved as their child learns success through physical activity.
9 of 13
The Special Olympics Unified Sports program pairs athletes with and without intellectual disabilities for training and competition. Athletes learn new sports, develop higher-level skills, have new competition opportunities, experience meaningful inclusion, socialize with their peers, form new friendships, and participate in their communities.
Special Olympics Everywhere
10 of 13
With over 53,000 competitions year-round across the globe, communities from the Midwestern United States to villages in western Africa come together for the joy, excitement and achievement of competition. But these Games also provide unique opportunities to advance society's acceptance and understanding of people with intellectual disabilities.
11 of 13
Held every two years, World Games alternate between Summer and Winter Games. World Games give Special Olympics athletes the chance to take their messages of hope and inclusion to new places like Japan, Ireland, China and Greece. Thousands of athletes come together for world-class competition while inviting the world to join in the excitement.