The Special Olympics

What are the Special Olympics?

Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. The Special Olympics is meant to embrace athletes of all abilities.
  • The Special Olympics were created and founded by a Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968
  • In total there are 4.4 million athletes that participate from 170 countries
  • There are events around the world everyday so there can be up to or maybe even more than 70,000 events a year
  • Just like the regular Olympics there are both winter and summer events

How do the Special Olympics Affect the Participants?

The Special Olympics affects the contestants in a great way. The Special Olympics give those who have a learning disability a group or sports team to belong to. Without the Special Olympics those who have a disability and enjoy physical activities would never have an organized game and not have a team to have fun with and they would only practice by themselves without the Special Olympics.

  • Abdel-Raman is a young man from Saudi Arabia, he is partially paralyzed. His talent for swimming did not come naturally or easily. Abdel-Raman's father says it took him a month to hold his breath underwater for three seconds. It took him a year to swim a distance of one meter. He did not give up. Abdel-Raman went on to win gold medals in 25- and 50-meter races at World Summer Games. He is a champion. "I was 14 when I joined the Special Olympics! It's 2015 and i'm still doing Special Olympics. I love the people because the are super nice and fun living", says the Contestant.

How do the Special Olympics Affect the Families?

One effect Special Olympics has on family members is their perceptions of their athlete and of people with intellectual disability in general. In a study of family members in the United States, many parents comment that they are impressed, and often surprised, by their child’s athletic ability, level of effort, competitive nature, and demonstrations of sportsmanship.4 This is found in studies examining the impact of Special Olympics in China and Latin America as well. Family members in those nations speak optimistically about their athlete’s future regarding continued and improved independence, employment, and overall position in their families and in society at large. 2,3 Family members attribute positive changes in their athletes to involvement in Special Olympics.


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"Special Olympics: Impact on Families." Special Olympics: Impact on Families. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 June 2015.