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…until the opening ceremony of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 ​

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What is the Special Olympics?

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sport, every day around the world.

Through programming in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities solving the global injustice, isolation, intolerance and inactivity they face. The Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners in 169 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 competitions throughout the year.

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.


The founder of the Special Olympics movement, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, celebrates with an athlete

(To read about Eunice Kennedy Shriver tireless efforts to bring about social inclusion, click here.)

The Special Olympics movement reaches:

  • 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners
  • 1 million coaches and volunteers
  • More than 108,000 competitions each year in 32 Olympic-type sports
  • Programs in 169 countries
  • Dynamic sports and corporate partnerships

Its programs include:

  • REAL SPORTS: Delivering, high-quality training and competition in an inclusive culture that stresses athletic excellence, rewards determination, emphasizes health and celebrates personal achievement.
  • ATHLETE HEALTH: Promoting the overall well-being of people with intellectual disabilities via programs that ensure ongoing access to quality, community-based healthcare services, highlighted by free health screenings at Special Olympics’ competitions, games and other venues.
  • TRANSFORMATIVE EDUCATION: Equipping young people and adult influencers with effective tools and training to create sports, classroom and community actions that produce friendships and acceptance, driving positive attitude and behavioral change.
  • BUILD COMMUNITIES: Marshalling resources, implementing diverse programming and acting as a convening power of stakeholders to drive positive attitudinal and behavioral change toward people with intellectual disabilities in communities worldwide, strengthening the fabric of society.

Be a part of history by volunteering to help in the run up to and during the Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018 and the Special Olympics World Games 2019.