Imagine a 2-year-old child, unsure, introverted and still learning to walk. Now imagine that same child, happy, active and laughing as he runs circles around his friends and family.
This is Grant Cornwell’s story, though it could belong to any one of the more than 10,000 children Special Olympics reaches through its Young Athletes™ program, a developmentally appropriate play program for children with intellectual disabilities ages 2 through 7.
“Our son is not the same little boy who started the class 5 months ago,” said Tim and Sarah Cornwell. “He is stronger, steadier, and more independent of us physically. We as parents are humbled by your gift to our son. It has been such a privileged and joy to participate in this program.”
Through Young Athletes™, volunteers introduce young children to the world of sport, with the goal of preparing them for Special Olympics sports training and competition when they get older. The program focuses on the basics that are crucial to cognitive development - physical activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination and the application of these physical skills through sports skills programs.
In the past, athletes have had to wait until age 8 to enroll in Special Olympics. In Virginia, thanks to community partners like American Family Fitness and Henrico County Public Schools, Young Athletes™ pilot programs have started spreading across the state
Help us introduce more young athletes and families to Special Olympics. For more information on how to get involved, volunteer or support this program, e-mail Val Reinford
, Vice President Local Program Services, or call her at 804.726.3036 or 800.932.4653 x3036.