Sports participation is a powerful force. It can shift the focus from disability to ability, from isolation to involvement. We offer the highest quality sports training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disability and autism all around Australia.
Special Olympics Australia offers regular training in Athletics, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling (Tenpin), Cricket, Dance, Equestrian, Football (Soccer), Golf, Gymnastics (Artistic and Rhythmic), Netball, Sailing, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis and Winter Sports (Alpine Skiing and Snow Board).
Each year there are also hundreds of competitions from local through to international competition. During competition, athletes are placed in divisions so that they compete against people of similar ability.
Inter-club competitions are held regularly in local communities.
State Games are held annually, with some states hosting multi-sport games, while others hold a separate competition for each sport.
Junior National Games and National Games are held every four years.
Invitational Games are hosted regularly with invites from other states or countries.
World Games operate on a four year-cycle with a separate event for summer and winter sports. Athletes of all abilities can compete at the World Games if they meet the selection criteria.
Young Athletes is a play-based program for children aged 2-8 who have an intellectual disability as well as their peers who do not. The program focuses on activities that support social and physical growth and is a stepping stone into sport. After participating for just 8-weeks participants experience an average 7-month gain in motor skills (source: Special Olympics Inc). Young Athletes also provides a welcoming support network for families. To understand the power of Young Athletes meet best friends Violet and Anja from Minnesota or watch young Amelia’s moves in the gym.
Unified Sports brings people with an intellectual disability and those without a disability together to play sport. The aim is to change negative attitudes towards people with disability and increase competition opportunities.
People with an intellectual disability are more likely to have unidentified or untreated health issues and will die younger than the general population – average of 13 years for men, 20 years for women (source: Special Olympics Inc). That’s why we offer Healthy Athletes at major competitions. Through Healthy Athletes volunteer medical and health practitioners provide free health screenings across multiple disciplines including treating feet, teeth, eyes, ears and general well-being.
Winning and achieving in sport boosts confidence, and as athletes grow and develop some seek to explore new opportunities. So, we teach them the tools to share their voice, make informed decisions and play an active role within the organisation and wider community. Our Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) provides opportunities for athletes to channel their energy into public speaking, community engagement, acting as ambassadors, working on committees or gaining employment.
Special Olympics Young Athletes