Young Athletes

Young Athletes welcomes children of all abilities, their families and people in the community into the world of Special Olympics

Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing. Young Athletes offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children.


Young Athletes provides children with activities and games that meet their individual skill and ability levels, while allowing them to play together in a fun and inclusive environment. The program shows that all children should be valued for their talents and abilities. Children of all abilities take part, and they all benefit.

Everyone benefits from Special Olympics Young Athletes. 

  • Motor skills. Children with ID who took part in an eight-week Young Athletes curriculum saw seven month’s development in motor skill. This is compared to a three month gain in motor skills for children who did not participate.

  • Social, emotional and learning skills. Parents and teachers of children who took part in the Young Athletes curriculum said the children learned skills that they will use in pre-primary school. The children were more enthusiastic and confident. They also played better with other children.

  • Expectations. Family members say that Young Athletes raised their hopes for their child’s future.

  • Sport readiness. Young Athletes helps children develop important movement and sport skills. These skills get them ready to take part in sports and recreation activities when they are older.

  • Acceptance. Inclusive play has a benefit for children without ID as well. It helps them to better understand and accept others. 


Maureen, SOEE Coordinator
Violet, Young Athlete
Tanya Nzvengende, SOA Coordinator
Chris, Parent
Cristina Rodriguez, SOLA Coordinator

Want to learn more?

Click below to find resources to support Young Athletes and Global Youth work.

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Young Athletes Resources

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All Global Youth Resources


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