The Special Olympics Summer Games will be taking place in June of 2011. It is a wonderful opportunity for children, (and adults), with intellectual or physical disabilities to participate, compete, and have fun in an environment filled with people who understand and support them. Your child could be an athlete.
In order to be an athlete in Special Olympics, a person must be at least eight years old. There isn’t an upward age limit, which means that the Special Olympics is open to both children and adults. In order to be eligible, athletes must have a cognitive delay, an intellectual disability, or a developmental disability. In other words, Special Olympics is for athletes who have a functional limitation in general learning or adaptive skills.
Children who are too young to participate in Special Olympics can take part in the Young Athletes program. This is for kids who are between the ages of two and seven, and who have an intellectual disability. There is a way to participate at home, or through a local Special Olympics program.
Kids of all ability levels are welcome to participate as athletes. The program emphasizes participation, and will recognize every athlete who competes. This isn’t about who won, or who came in first. Athletes will be placed into divisions so that they can compete with other athletes who have a similar ability level to themselves.
There are thirty different sports that an athlete could, potentially, compete in. Not every Special Olympics chapter will include all of these sports. If you are thinking about registering your child for Special Olympics you should start by finding out information about the Special Olympics that will be taking place nearest you.
The first event that comes to mind when I think of Special Olympics is their Athletics. By this I mean races that are run on foot across a track. Other events include: Aquatics, Artistic Gymnastics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Cricket, Cycling, Equestrian, Floor Hockey, Floorball, Football, Golf, Handball, Judo, Kayaking, Netball, Open Swimming, Softball, Speed Skating, Table Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, and more.
It can also include Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing and Figure Skating, but my guess is that those events will be difficult to set up in the middle of Summer. Special Olympics is also looking for volunteers to help out. You can follow Special Olympics on Twitter, or connect to their Facebook page.
Image by Lovin’ Spoonful on Flickr