The Young Athletes program is an innovative sports play program for children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities (ID) and developmental disabilities (DD) 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 to families, agencies, and schools.
This program is designed to address two specific levels of play. Level 1 includes physical activities focused on developing fundamental motor tracking and eye-hand coordination. Level 2 concentrates on the application of these physical activities through a sports skills activity program and developing skills consistent with Special Olympics sports play. The activities will consist of fundamental sports skills, such as walking, running, balance, jumping, trapping, catching, throwing, striking, and kicking.
Types of Programs
There are two ways the program may be offered.
- The Young Athletes program can be offered at home by a family member or friend. These volunteers become play pals on a one-on-one basis with their family member. This would be called a home-based Young Athletes program.
- The second option is offer a site program. A site program may be a school or agency such as a Parks & Recreation Department, Hospital, Daycare, ARC, UCP, YMCA, and Church, school or Camp. The agency agrees to offer the program under the name of Special Olympics Florida Young Athletes Program. A site program may also be under the direction of a volunteer approved by Special Olympics Florida who finds a donated site to conduct activities. Such sites might include but not limited to a church, community center, YMCA, playground, ARC, UCP, or Housing Development Community Room.
Both types of groups will follow all guidelines for the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. Group site must have at least 6 registered Young Athletes to begin a program as they will receive an equipment kit free of charge.
Nemours Children’s Hospital is a proud year-round sponsor of our Young Athletes program, and they are committed to helping us support children with special needs.