With emphasis on acceptance, respect and inclusion; SOAZ is about operating under the assumption that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of participating in all aspects of life by focusing on abilities rather than limitations.
Children and adults with intellectual disabilities inspire us every day at Special Olympics events around the world. Whether individuals have fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, or another intellectual disability, they are accepted, welcomed, and celebrated at Special Olympics Arizona.
SOAZ is a place where individuals have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop belief in themselves. Special Olympics programs provide a gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance, and joy and the lessons learned in Special Olympics also impact their life skills.
People with intellectual disabilities are found everywhere, without regard to race, religion, political affiliation, culture, economics, or social class. And their positive spirit, determination to succeed, and innate human decency make them powerful ambassadors for all people society routinely undervalues, generally ignores, or even shuns.
In Special Olympics, the athletes are the heart of the movement. At no cost to any athletes to join or participate, Special Olympics Arizona offers training and competition opportunities in Olympic-type sports, advocacy resources, health screenings and so much more for athletes 8 years or older.
No matter what your ability level, you can benefit from Special Olympics. And no matter what your interest, there is a program for you.
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
The Special Olympics mission remains as vital today as it did when the movement was founded in 1968. Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering acceptance and inclusion of all people.
Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills, and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence, and fulfillment—on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.
The transformative power of sports to instill confidence, improve health, and inspire a sense of competition is at the core of what Special Olympics does. The power and joy of sport, shifts focus to what our athletes CAN do, not what they can’t. With our 21 sports, we offer adults and children with intellectual disabilities many ways to be involved in their communities and show who they really are.
Special Olympics Arizona’s (SOAZ) goal is to empower Arizonans with intellectual disabilities to be healthy, productive, and respected members of society through SOAZ’s year-round sports training, competitions, and support programs.
There are more than 180,000 people with intellectual disabilities in Arizona. Our goal is to reach out to every one of them—and their families as well. Special Olympics does this through a wide range of trainings, competitions, health screenings, and fundraising events. We also create opportunities for families, community members, local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, celebrities, dignitaries, and others to band together to change attitudes and support athletes.
At no cost to any athletes to join or participate, individuals can begin the adventure of making new friends and learning new skills!
To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics Arizona, participants must be at least 8 years old and have a current Medical and Consent Form on file. Participants must also be identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially designed instruction.
The Special Olympics Young Athletes program was created for children with intellectual disabilities ages 2 through 7. Children who are 6 and 7 years old can participate in Under Eight Can’t Wait local area training programs (where available) and area competitions.
The minimum age requirement for participation in state competitions is eight years of age, and for world & USA competitions the minimum age is 16 years. There is no maximum age for participation in Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics Arizona team is led by dedicated staff with various backgrounds. Our goal is to provide athletes with opportunities, promote awareness, and provide support to the community.
A coach is a key figure in an athlete’s life, providing the sports skills and spirit that define a true athlete. Coaches serve as role models and character builders, giving Special Olympics athletes awareness of their worth, ability, courage, and capacity to grow and improve.
Special Olympics coaches also have a direct impact on athletes’ lives by helping them acquire skills that can influence their abilities to obtain employment, succeed in school, and achieve personal goals.
At Special Olympics Arizona, we need your energy and time to help bring out the best in someone else. Our athletes have unlimited enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, and a great amount of joy to share. Coaching for Special Olympics will renew your love of playing and competing just for the fun of it.
If you are interested in becoming a coach please complete the Coaches Interest Form linked below!