Special Olympics Strong Minds

Strong Minds is an interactive learning activity focused on developing adaptive coping skills.

Competition provides a natural opportunity to develop active strategies for maintaining emotional wellness under stress, such as:

  • thinking positive thoughts,
  • releasing stress and
  • connecting with others.

Athletes try a few different active coping strategies as they move through the stations. Before exiting, athletes identify the strategies they like best and volunteers provide them with visual reminders to use these tools in competition and in daily life.

Importance and Impact

Pilot data from Strong Minds events found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes face significant stresses on a daily basis, but have access to only a few adaptive coping strategies (Hartley & MacLean, 2010)

  • 12% of athletes report having no coping strategies
  • 62% mostly use avoidant strategies (e.g., not think the stressor), which is associated with increased depression
  • 26% mostly use active strategies (e.g. doing something to help themselves to feel better), which is associated with increased well-being

Resources and Guides