Special Olympics have been changing lives since that first summer day in 1961, when Sargent and Eunice Shriver began the event in the backyard of their Maryland estate. Today, Special Olympics is the largest sports organization in the world, and they serve 4.2 million people with intellectual disabilities across the globe.
Special Olympics provides a platform for children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities to show off their athletic skills and talents, but in doing so, Special Olympics also fights negative stereotypes, misperceptions and lack of education. This sports organization brings awareness to the dignity, determination, courage and heart of the men and women participating in the games. Using sports as a catalyst, Special Olympics programs are making a positive impact on individuals, families and communities.
Special Olympics Benefits Athletes, Families and Communities
Even though 85 percent of those with intellectual disabilities have only mild impairment, many people believe they are not capable of being included in sports or school activities. Participation in Special Olympics helps change these attitudes.
In its primary role as a sports organization, Special Olympics inspires athletes to get moving and get fit, and this can help improve physical fitness and motor skills. In a recent survey by Special Olympics, 94 percent of the athletes reported improved sports skills. Children ages two to seven years experienced a 7-month gain in motor skills after participating in a Young Athletes program for eight weeks.
Sixty-five percent of parents said that participation in the program had raised their expectations of their children. More than half of athletes’ siblings said they felt participation in Special Olympics programs had brought their families closer together.
The research shows that exposure to Special Olympics programs or initiatives can widely change misperceptions outside of the home too. An impressive 97 percent of high school seniors said that inclusion in the schools through the Unified Champion program is changing their schools for the better, and 79 percent of the Unified Champion athletes without disabilities report an increased understanding of their teammates.
The high level of inclusion, education and connection shows the true nature of those with intellectual disabilities as valuable members of the community. Special Olympics is an uplifting experience for everyone involved, including the athletes, family members, volunteers and audience.
For more information on the many benefits of getting involved with Special Olympics, contact About Kids Home Health Care. We are glad to provide more information about Special Olympics and other activities for your family. About Kids Home Health Care participates in many Special Olympics events in the Colorado Springs area each year.