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.


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


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


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


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


13 Sports

Special Olympics offers 13 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, Cheerleading, Flag Football, Floorball, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis and Volleyball.

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

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 (YA) serves 76,000 children nationally between the ages of 2 to 7 years old. It helps develop motor, social and cognitive skills with the help of active games, songs, an obstacle course and other activities. Along with the benefits to mental and physical growth, YA strengthens social and emotional development and provides a boost in family support.

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School Program

Special Olympics Southern California's Schools Program encourages inclusion, participation, and leadership in students through the power of sport. This partnership between schools and Special Olympics Southern California includes sports training and competition, inclusive youth leadership and whole school engagement for students of all ages.

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Athlete Leadership

Along with shining on the sports field, athletes have the opportunity to shine off the field through the Athlete Leadership. 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.

SOSC offers 13 sports across 4 seasons, serving thousands of athletes in community and school-based programs in 11 counties.

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

Programs available for people with intellectual disabilities ages 2 and older

Special Olympics athletes are twice as likely to have a job


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.

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