Why become an athlete?

Special Olympics athletes in track race

There are more than 45,000 children, youth and adults with an intellectual disability in Canada who participate in at least two Special Olympics programs per year on average. The benefits of these programs include:

  • physical fitness and conditioning
  • improved balance, coordination and body control
  • increase in sport skills and competitive skills
  • increase in self-confidence and social skills


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

Special Olympics offers programs to individuals of all ages. Children as young as two years of age can register in Special Olympics Canada's Active Start. This program is the first stage in the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model that looks to develop the physical education of individuals with an intellectual disability. This model allows people to stay “active for life” in community based programs, and/or work to reach the podium in competitive training programs if they choose. For more information, please visit our Programs section.

To become a Special Olympics athlete, please contact your Provincial or Territorial Chapter.

For more information about how becoming an athlete can impact your life, please visit our program benefits page.