A place to learn
Special Olympics is humanity’s greatest classroom, where lessons of ability, acceptance and inclusion are taught on the fields of competition by our greatest teachers – the athletes.
“I remember my aunt, my dad’s sister, who had an intellectual disability. In my boyhood, I learned from her that people with intellectual challenges are above all, human beings, whose disabilities don’t at all diminish their other great human qualities and strengths: kindness, humour and a gift for friendship.”
- Wayne Gretzky, NHL legend & Special Olympics supporter. Also, Team Canada’s honourary athlete at the Special Olympics World Summer Games (1991).
Special Olympics is about sports and so much more, and its true power lies in its ability to create change: change in the lives of not only the children, youth and adults registered in its programs, but in the lives of those that matter most to them and in the communities in which we all live.
Empowering Through Sport
For people with an intellectual disability, Special Olympics is often the only place where they have an opportunity to develop a strong belief in themselves. Through Special Olympics, they begin to see themselves differently. Whether by stepping onto the ice or onto the track, they now see themselves as athletes who can do so much more.
And it doesn’t stop there. The confidence and skills they gain translate into other areas of life as well.
- Through our Athlete Leadership Program, many will share their stories of accomplishments and success in Special Olympics when speaking to the public or as board members. In the fall of 2010, Special Olympics athletes gathered from across our country and met with Members of Parliament and the Senate in Ottawa for our very first Hill Day.
- Special Olympics athlete, Matthew Williams from Langley, BC now chairs the Global Athlete Congress, which discusses the future of the movement and ensures the athlete voice is heard and considered.
- Research undertaken in the US has shown that those registered in Special Olympics programs are five times more likely to work than those who are not.
Special Olympics offers each person the opportunity to actively participate in our movement as leaders not just as recipients of services.
Part of our mission is to educate people about the dignity and gifts of all people. Most attitudes toward people with an intellectual disability are framed by misconceptions about what they can and cannot do. But look at Special Olympics athletes in competition. You’ll see the seriousness, the commitment, and the courage. When you see their accomplishments firsthand, you can’t help but think differently. Our attitudes change and our perspectives widen.
And so, Special Olympics teaches us to recognize our similarities over our differences. We all value leadership, bravery, unity, perseverance, and sportsmanship. Special Olympics reminds us that we are all more alike than different.
Special Olympics is a force that brings people together and allows them to connect on an entirely new level. People from all walks of life – families, local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, celebrities, government officials, and others – work together to make the world a better place; one which is more respectful, accepting, and tolerant.