What We Do

Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities with over 6 million athletes and Unified partners in 174 countries.  Here in Florida, we are serving over 51,000 athletes and Unified partners with the help of over 33,000 dedicated coaches and volunteers.

Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment — on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.

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Sports Training and Competition

Since 1972, Special Olympics Florida has been spreading the message that people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.

With training and competitions in Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From the local ball fields to the shining stage of State, National, and World Games, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities.

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Build 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 about 250 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.

Change Attitudes

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

We fight negative stereotypes and misperceptions. We educate people young and old about the skills and gifts of our athletes. We provide educational experiences for coaches, volunteers and teachers to enhance their knowledge and show them how the Special Olympics experience can transcend all aspects of their lives.

Special Olympics leads the world in researching the concerns of people with intellectual disabilities and how others perceive them. We use the research to influence policy and bring services to those in need. Special Olympics’ research is a powerful force for social and policy change around the globe.

Health Programs

Special Olympics is also the world’s largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Many of our athletes come to us with neglected health problems. At State Games and other events, we offer a wide range of free health exams.  Our goal is to bring better fitness, nutrition and healthier lifestyles to everyone involved in Special Olympics — from athletes and their families, to coaches and volunteers.

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Athlete Leadership

Special Olympics Athlete Leadership allow athletes to explore opportunities in roles previously considered “non-traditional”.  Such participation might come in the form of an athlete serving on the Board of Directors or local organizing committee; or it might find an athlete as a spokesperson, team captain, coach or official. Participation in Athlete leadership may be in addition to or in place of participation in athletic training and competition.

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Young Athletes

This is an innovative sports play program for children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities and their peers, designed to introduce them into the world of sports. The benefits to this program have been proven worldwide. First and foremost, these activities will help the children improve physically, cognitively and socially. This program will also raise awareness of the Special Olympics program and serve as an introduction to the resources and support available within Special Olympics Florida families, agencies and schools.

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Little ELITES (Elementary Level Introduction To Entry-level Sports) is a sports program that bridges the gap between Special Olympics Young Athletes (ages 2-7) and competitive Special Olympics sports (ages 8+) concepts and models. The program is ideal for children in 2nd through 5th grade who have an intellectual disability (ID) or developmental disability (DD) diagnosis.

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Motor Activities Training

The Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) is designed for athletes with severe or profound intellectual disability who are unable to participate in Official Special Olympics sport competitions because of their skill and/or functional abilities. This program is designed to prepare athletes with severe or profound intellectual disability, including athletes with significant physical disabilities, for sport-specific activities appropriate for their abilities.

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Unified Champion Schools

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools is an education-based project that uses sports and education programs to activate young people to develop school communities where all youth are agents of change – fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

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Special Olympics transforms lives every day, everywhere. This short video is an overview of Special Olympics, its history and major programs – and how, through the power and joy of sports, Special Olympics is creating a world of inclusion and respect – one athlete, one volunteer, one doctor, one teacher at a time.