Special Olympics Canada | Olympiques Spéciaux Canada
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50 per cent

of Special Olympics athletes work. They are 5 times more likely to work than adults with an intellectual disability not enrolled in Special Olympics.

749 athletes

benefitted from the Healthy Athletes series of free health clinics at the 2010 national summer games.

Be an Athlete

Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt. — Special Olympics athlete oath

Since the start of Special Olympics Canada, promoting an active involvement with sport has been our primary concern. As an athlete, you will be able to take part in our many programs designed to enrich the lives of those involved. Along with this, there are several programs and services provided to ensure that both your health and wellbeing are considered.

There are currently more than 36,000 children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability in Canada who participate, on average, in at least two Special Olympics programs per year. The benefits individuals receive from these integrated training and competitive opportunities programs are widely known and include:

  • physical fitness and conditioning;
  • improved balance, co-ordination and body control;
  • increase in sport skills and competitive skills;
  • increase in self confidence and social skills.

At what age can individuals with an intellectual disability register for Special Olympics programs?

Individuals as young as two can register in Active Start. This program, targeting two to six year olds, is the first stage in the eight-stage Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model that looks to develop the physical literacy of each individual with an intellectual disability.

This model acts as a framework for those who choose to stay “active for life” in community or recreational programs, or those who look to reach the podium in competitive training programs.

To become a Special Olympics athlete, contact the local provincial or territorial chapter.


Is Special Olympics for everyone?

To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, children, youth and adults must have an intellectual disability; a cognitive delay, or a development disability, that is, functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills.

Intellectual Disabilities Fact Sheet (PDF)

Flexibility is left to the local, regional, chapter or national level for determining the eligibility of participants because of the variety of situations and needs that exist. Overall, inclusion is preferred to exclusion when eligibility is in question.

Athlete Eligibility

In order to be eligible for participation in Special Olympics, an individual with an intellectual disability must agree to observe and abide by the sport rules of Special Olympics Canada. Click here for complete details on eligibility. Simply contact your home provincial or territorial chapter to register.

Athlete Eligibility

  • For the Young Athlete

    Recognizing the importance of sport in the lives of all individuals, we understand that offering programs directly to youth should be an integral part of what we do. With this in mind, we are proud to provide our young athletes with the programs necessary to develop many important skills required in both sport and everyday life.

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