Our History

Special Olympics came to Prince Edward Island in 1987 and has been growing steadily ever since
Dr. Hayden, Founder of Special Olympics Canada

The Special Olympics Story

The Special Olympics movement began in 1963 by a Canadian Physical Education Professor, Dr. Frank Hayden from London, Ontario. Dr. Hayden's research with people who have an intellectual disability proved that they were capable of motor activities and fitness levels far beyond what had previously been thought. Dr. Hayden conceived the idea of holding, what he phrased, "Special" Olympics in order to support his research. This concept was then brought to the attention of an American family with strong roots and heritage in the United States, the Shrivers. They supported the first ever Special Olympiad in Chicago, Illinois in 1968. Since then, Special Olympics has grown from an event to a year round movement. Today Special Olympics serves over four million athletes with an intellectual disability in more than 170 countries.

Special Olympics PEI

Special Olympics PEI became an accredited chapter of Canadian Special Olympics in 1982. During that time, Special Olympic activities on PEI were coordinated though the Recreation and Sports Association for the Disabled (RSAD). In 1987, Special Olympics PEI stepped from under the RSAD umbrella and became its own incorporated, charitable organization.

Since its inception in 1982, Special Olympics PEI has grown steadily and today there are over 350 registered athletes who participate in approximately 57 recreation and sport programs across the province. These programs are supported by more than 120 coaches and volunteers.

Island Athletes at World Games

Since 1998, 23 Special Olympics PEI athletes have represented Canada at World Games. Congratulations to the following PEI athletes on being selected as members of Team Canada!

2017 World Winter Games - Austria
  • Alyssa Chapman - Figure Skating
  • Janet Charchuk - Snowshoeing
2015 World Summer Games - Los Angeles, USA
  • John Paynter - Athletics
  • Jenna Smith - 10-Pin Bowling
2013 World Winter Games - South Korea
  • Ellen MacNearney - Nordic Skiing
  • Alyssa Chapman - Figure Skating
2011 World Summer Games - Greece
  • Team PEI Softball - Softball
2009 World Winter Games - Idaho, USA
  • Michael Morris - Nordic Skiing
2005 World Winter Games - Japan
  • Michael Morris - Nordic Skiing
  • Rose MacDonald - Nordic Skiing
2003 World Summer Games - Ireland
  • Suzie Smith - Swimming
2001 World Winter Games - Alaska, USA
  • Shirley Buote - Snowshoeing
1999 World Summer Games - North Carolina, USA
  • Suzie Smith - Swimming