Young Athletes

A Head Start

Special Olympics Young Athletes is an early childhood play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities, ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing. Young Athletes offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children.

Young Athletes provides children of all abilities the same opportunities to advance in core developmental milestones. Children learn how to play with others and develop important skills for learning. Children also learn to share, take turns and follow directions. These skills help children in family, community and school activities.

Young Athletes is a fun way for children to stay active and establish healthy habits for the future. It is important to teach children healthy habits while they are young. This can set the stage for a life of physical activity, friendships and learning. Young Athletes is easy to do and fun for all. It can be done at home, in schools or in the community using the Young Athletes Activity Guide and basic equipment. Through Young Athletes, all children, their families and people in the community can be a part of an inclusive team.

Young Athletes welcomes children and their families into the world of Special Olympics.

  • Motor skills. Children with intellectual disabilities who took part in Young Athletes developed motor skills more than twice as fast as others who did not take part.
  • Social, emotional and learning skills. Parents and teachers of children who took part in the Young Athletes curriculum said the children learned skills that they will use in pre-primary school.
  • Expectations. Family members say that Young Athletes raised their hopes for their child’s future.
  • Sport readiness. Young Athletes helps children get ready to take part in sports when they are older.
  • Acceptance. Inclusive play helps children without a disability to better understand and accept others.

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