I have a good friend who works for Special Olympics and on occasion we chat about her job and what it entails. I really didn’t have a good understanding of what this amazing organization does. When you think of Special Olympics, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? I always thought that it was a once a year thing only for kids with disabilities, but my perception was wrong. Special Olympics is not just for kids AND not just for people with physical disabilities…it’s about INCLUSION.
Special Olympics is a global movement of people creating a new world of inclusion and community, where every single person is accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability. We are helping to make the world a better, healthier and more joyful place — one athlete, one volunteer, one family member at a time.
My friend explained to me that anyone who learns at a slower pace can participate in their events. This means that if your child would love to play a sport but has trouble keeping up on a traditional team, then S.O. might be a good alternative. This brought up a great point about sports families…not all kids in a family have the same abilities. A child who struggles with learning a sport, might feel left out watching a sibling play. If this is your child then maybe you want to give Special Olympics a try. (Like most organizations there is an application process, so be sure to check for deadlines.)
As most of you know, team sports can bring people together. Special Olympics has another program called Unified Sports that it’s primary goal is promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports brings people together, with and without intellectual disabilities, to play on a team. They group kids together by similar age and ability. These blended teams help individuals learn more about each other.
There are several ways you can volunteer within the S.O. organization and use your skills, talents, and time. Here are just a few:
- Officiating Games (must be certified)
- Healthy Athletes Program (volunteers opportunities for health care providers and youth)
- Project UNIFY for Students
- Spread the Word
- Help at a local event
To find a local Special Olympics office and get connected, click HERE.
We want to encourage all you parents to help your kids get involved and give back. If you don’t feel Special Olympics is the right fit for your family, there are many other places to invest. If you need some ideas, please check out our post on volunteering.