Why get involved with Special Olympics?

Through the power of sports, an athlete can discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success.

The Power of Sports and Fitness

"Regular aerobic physical activity increases heart and lung function; improves daily living activities and independence; decreases chances of developing chronic diseases; and improves mental health," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

That's where the emphasis that Special Olympics places on year-round sports participation pays off.

All Special Olympics athletes take part in sports, and that involves weekly training and at least one competition per season. Special Olympics Alberta offers 18 official sports, and many of our athletes take part in sports year round. In the Canada, over 40,000 people with intellectual disabilities are involved with Special Olympics.

"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."- Special Olympics Athlete Oath



Since 1968, Special Olympics has involved people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in competitive sports, a mission that gets people off the couch and on to playing fields. Now, more than 4.4 million people young and old with ID take part in training and competitions worldwide.

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. Since 1968, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the opportunity. And it all happens through the simple power of sport. At Special Olympics, we believe that sports can teach us all important lessons. When we train and strive for a goal, it teaches us to dream. When we struggle, it teaches us determination. When we win, we find joy. And if we lose, we can find the strength to try again.

Our sports events bring together a large and inclusive community of athletes, supporters and families, coaches, volunteers and many others. Athletes are at the center of it all -- to share joy of themselves, their families and their communities. These events help us all rediscover the purity of sports -- and real athletic pursuits -- based on true Olympic ideals.

Changing Attitudes

Special Olympics is the leading voice in raising awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

Through sports, we showcase the skills and dignity of our athletes. We also bring together communities to see and take part in the transformative power of sports. We know the odds our athletes must overcome and the barriers they face every single day. We see this at training events and competitions as our athletes push to beat their personal bests -- and exceed them. Their stories and successes inspire us all.

We believe in a world where there are millions of different abilities but not disabilities. And we're spreading this message everywhere - at big Special Olympics events and small ones.


Building Communities

Special Olympics works to spread compassion and acceptance in a way that can unite the world. Our goal is to awaken everyone -- and every community -- to each person’s common humanity. This vision of inclusion starts at the local level. It is expanding on a global scale.

There are up to 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world. We want to reach out to every one of them – and their families and communities as well.  

Special Olympics does this through a wide range of trainings, competitions, health screenings and fund-raising events. We also create opportunities for families, community members, local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, celebrities, dignitaries and others to team together to change attitudes and support athletes.

Some of our key program efforts to build communities include: Unified Sports, Athlete Leadership programs, Family Engagement, Healthy Athletes and Young Athletes.

Special Olympics knows no boundaries. Without regard to gender, race, religion, economic or education level, Special Olympics has the ability to unite all walks of life.