Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing. Young Athletes offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children.
Children of all abilities take part, and they all benefit. Special Olympics Washington provides an Activity Guide, equipment, and other resources to volunteers interested in beginning the 8 week program in schools, homes, or community settings.
Athletes that participate in Young Athletes will experience growth in…
- Motor skills. Children with ID who took part in an eight-week Young Athletes curriculum saw seven month’s development in motor skills. This is compared to a three-month gain in motor skills for children who did not participate.
- Social, emotional and learning skills. 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. The children were more enthusiastic and confident. They also played better with other children.1
- Expectations. Family members say that Young Athletes raised their hopes for their child’s future.
- Sport readiness. Young Athletes helps children develop important movement and sport skills. These skills get them ready to take part in sports when they are older.
- Acceptance. Inclusive play has a benefit for children without ID as well. It helps them to better understand and accept others.