What does every child want? The chance to kick a ball, to throw it well, to share that success with family members.
What does every child with an intellectual disability want? The exact same thing.
Young Athletes is a unique sport and play program for children ages 2 to 7 with intellectual disabilities. Our focus is on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth.
Children enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills like balance, flexibility, strength and coordination. In fact, in a recent study, children with developmental delays who participated in a structured 8-week Young Athletes program showed significantly more motor development than those who did not participate. Not only that, but their teachers and parents also reported improved confidence, language skills and social skills. After participating, involved families reported that they played more together at home and in the community.
“My proudest moment is when I see my oldest son cheering for Nick at Special Olympics events, looking at him with sincere love and admiration," said Traci LaGanke, mom of Young Athlete Nick. "My second proudest moment is when others view him that way as well!"
Young Athletes is easy to get started, fun for all, and a great way to boost confidence and expectations. It can be offered at home, in schools, or in the community using Special Olympics resources, and simple sports equipment. Like all our programs, Young Athletes raises awareness and promotes inclusion and acceptance.
To enroll your child in an existing community-based Young Athletes program, click on the location closest to you and send an email requesting more information: Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, and Newport News.
Need help getting a Young Athletes Program started? Check out the Special Olympics toolkit for our Young Athletes curriculum and resources.Young Athletes Toolkit