Special Olympics What are the Benefits?

Children participating in a Special Olympics skiing event.

Jonny Pierce has broke records and won medals as a Special Olympics participant in swimming. But it wasn’t always that way.

His parents said he started to show signs of something not being quite right at about a year and a half. He wasn’t developing quite the same as his brother did.

A psychologist came to their house and told them he had autism. He had a hard time processing his senses.

What became his sanctuary was water when he joined the Special Olympics.

You can hear more of his story along with others at 50 Game Changers.


Special Olympics What are the Benefits? 


The Special Olympics mission is to provide sports training and competition all year long to children and adults with disabilities. They offer various “Olympic” type sports to allow participants to develop their fitness level, embrace courage, and experience pride in their involvement. 

How did Special Olympics Get Started? 

Special Olympics started 52 years ago to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to have access to sports and live a more healthy life.  

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What is the Importance of Special Olympics?

Special Olympics currently opens the door for individuals with disabilities to be included in athletics and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Special Olympics also provides a circle of connections for individuals to promote healthy life-long friendships. It also opens the door for inclusion to happen.  

Special Olympics is at the local, state, and international levels.


The focus of Special Olympics includes:

  • Sports & Games
  • Inclusive Health
  • Unified Schools
  • Unified Leadership
  • The Revolution of Inclusion

Each of these areas promotes total community involvement and end the idea people with disabilities can’t perform. They also allow people from local to international levels to promote and provide inclusive activities and events for people with and without disabilities.  

Unified Schools and Leadership provides opportunities for individuals without disabilities to rise within their buildings to promote inclusion throughout the school.  

These schools also bring both students with and without disabilities together to help provide a more inclusive environment for all individuals and create lifelong friendships. It also is a great way to connect and learn about differences. 


Who is eligible for Special Olympics?

To participate in Special Olympics, an individual needs to be eight years old and be identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: 

  • Intellectual disability
  • Cognitive delays
  • Learning disabilities that require specially designed instruction in the past or currently.  

There is a Special Olympics Young Athlete Program. It is open to children with disabilities from the ages of 2-7.

The athlete’s oath for Special Olympics is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” This oath promotes sportsmanship allowing for growth opportunities.  

The oath is an example for all individuals with and without disabilities to live by. In other words, give it all you have, continue to work hard even when faced with adversity, and continue to move forward in all things in life.


What Sports are Included in the Special Olympics? 

There are so many different sports that a participant can play in Special Olympics. Here is a shortlist: 

  • Aquatics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Bowling 
  • Figure Skating
  • Gymnastics
  • Horseback riding
  • Sailing
  • Softball
  • Table tennis
  • Track and field
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball


Additional Resources for Children with Disabilities

Special Olympics has created a door for individuals with disabilities to be active, productive members of society and to have long-lasting friendships while focusing on healthy lifestyles.  

Special Olympics is more than a program for people to have something to do. It is a way for individuals to experience life in an inclusive matter. It also brings people together for a common purpose and goal. Special Olympics creates an equal playing field for all individuals where all people are accepted and welcome.

Have you or your child participated in a Special Olympics program? Please share your experience with us below in the comments. 

If you are looking for more resources for a child with learning disabilities, here are a few articles to check out: 


Do you have a child that needs more one on one assistance?  

We offer one-on-one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere the student is! Why? Because our special education experts conduct their sessions online!

Get started with a free consultation today!


Children participating in a Special Olympics skiing event.
Has your child heard that they can’t do that because of their disability? Becoming a part of the Special Olympics can change that for them!

Picture of Amanda Wagoner, MAT

Amanda Wagoner, MAT

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