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Benefits of Participation

No matter the person's age or skill level, Special Olympics Southern California has something for every person with intellectual disabilities. We deliver high-quality, year-round competition and training opportunities in an inclusive culture that stresses athletic excellence, rewards determination, emphasizes health, and celebrates personal achievement.

Strength

Physical exercise positively impacts health, mood and anxiety. Emphasis on sports training helps athletes maintain a healthy weight.

Confidence

Through sports, our athletes see themselves for their abilities, not disabilities. They become confident and empowered by their accomplishments.

Inspiration

As athletes become empowered, they have opportunities to get involved in decision making, public speaking, and leadership roles.

Friendship

Athletes have many opportunities to make friends and socialize in an accepting environment. They discover they are not alone.

Sports

12 Year-Round Sports

Special Olympics offers 11 Olympic-style individual and team sports that provide meaningful training and competition opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Sports offered are: Athletics (Track & Field), Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Floor Hockey, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis and Volleyball.

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Competitions

From Area Games to World Games, athletes have the opportunity to compete on multiple stages and against athletes from across the globe.

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Unified Sports

Unified Sports ® joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. Our opponent is intolerance, and as long as we come together on the field of play, we can defeat it.

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Young Athletes

Young Athletes ® is a unique sport and play program for children with intellectual disabilities. The focus is on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth. Children ages 2 to 7 enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Young Athletes is an early introduction to sports and to the world of Special Olympics.

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School Partnership Program

We partner with various schools and districts in order to bring sports trainings and competition opportunities to students of all ages. We encourage all students and teachers to participate not only in sports but in youth leadership opportunities and coaching.

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Non-Sports

Athlete Leadership Programs

Along with shining on the sports field, athletes have the opportunity to shine off the field through the Athlete Leadership Program. Athletes are empowered to utilize their voices to assume meaningful leadership roles, influence change in the Special Olympics movement, and help create more accepting and inclusive communities around the world.

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Healthy Athletes Program

Keeping our athletes healthy so they can compete is a key goal of Special Olympics. That's why athletes can receive free health screenings during select competitions. At Healthy Athletes, healthcare professionals and students provide podiatry, hearing, optometry, dental, dietary, and fitness screenings. The screenings are held in a welcoming and fun environment that remove the anxiety and trepidation people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a doctor or dentist.

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Facts & Figures

Free. Special Olympics programs are free to all athletes and their families.

Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.

More than 30,700 athletes from San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield to San Diego train and compete.

Athletes train and compete year-round in two sports seasons.

Programs available for people with intellectual disabilities aged 2 1/2 and older

Special Olympics athletes are twice as likely to have a job

MEET OUR ATHLETES

Athlete Testimonials

Paul Hoffman has competed in Special Olympics for more than 30 years and is passionate about the changes sports have made in his life. Not only has athletics made him a healthier person, but it has given him more self-confidence and a sense of pride.