The Young Athletes Program

Building skills for life

The Special Olympics Young Athletes program provides the opportunity for all children aged 2 to 8 years old, regardless of ability, to enjoy fun within a range of sports.

The Young Athletes Program focuses on the development of fundamental movement skills, and social and emotional development in a fun, inclusive, and active environment.

Students develop important learning skills such as how to share, take turns and follow directions. These skills help young children at school, with their family, and in the community.

The program found that participants:

Were able to develop motor skills twice as fast as children who did not have the ability to join.
Improved their social, emotional and learning skills, better preparing them to enter the next stages of their education.
5 and 10 month follow ups showed that the Young Athletes had maintained a 4 month advantage in their development.
Raised the hopes of 91% of family members as they believed that their child would be able to live peacefully and happily within society.

“It gives people with intellectual disabilities a fair go. It‘s a very visible & tangible way of communicating that everybody’s important and everyone can achieve.

Claire, mother of Gold Medal Gymnast, Ellen

Core Outcomes of the Young Athletes Program

The benefits of the Young Athletes Program are many and varied, but the key outcomes include:

Children with intellectual disabilities who took part in Young Athletes developed motor skills more than twice as fast as others who did not take part.

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.

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

Young Athletes helps children get ready to take part in sports when they are older.

Inclusive play helps children without a disability to better understand and accept others.

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