Beyond Sports

Young Athletes

What does every child want? The chance to kick a ball, to throw it well, to share that success with family members, to be included. What does every child with an intellectual disability want? The exact same thing.
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Young Athletes is a unique sport and play program for children ages 2 to 7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Our focus is on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth.

Children enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills like balance, flexibility, strength and coordination. In fact, in a recent study, children with developmental delays who participated in a structured 8-week Young Athletes program showed significantly more motor development than those who did not. Not only that, but their teachers and parents also reported improved confidence, language skills and social skills. After participating, involved families shared that they played more together at home and in the community.

"My proudest moment is when I see my oldest son cheering for Nick at Special Olympics events, looking at him with sincere love and admiration. My second proudest moment is when others view him that way as well!"
Traci LaGanke, mom of Young Athlete Nick

Young Athletes is easy to start, fun for all, and a great way to boost confidence and expectations. It can be offered at home, in schools, or in the community using Special Olympics resources, and simple sports equipment. Like all our programs, Young Athletes raises awareness and promotes inclusion and acceptance.

Let's Play Together Young Athletes
Special Olympics Young Athletes program is an inclusive and welcoming learning environment for children with and without intellectual disabilities from ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes programs provide a focus on teamwork while also teaching children basic sports skills such as running, kicking and throwing.

Find a Special Olympics Area program near you to participate. Visit our Unified Champion Schools Preschool/Elementary page to learn how Young Athletes activities can be incorporated in school setting.

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Young Athletes Curriculum

Through Young Athletes, all children, their families and people in the community are welcomed into the world of Special Olympics and can be a part of an inclusive team.

Additional Resources

Young Athlete Fact Sheet

Learn about the Young Athletes program through our fact sheet.

Activity Guide

Comprehensive guide to all of the Young Athlete activities. A great way to get started.

Young Athlete Activity Videos

Download these videos as a resource to get ideas for your Young Athletes Program.

Young Athletes Research

Employ the research conducted on the Special Olympics Young Athletes program.

Young Athletes At Home

Young Athletes offers families a collection of resources and activities for inclusive play at home.