It is our vision to become the premier provider of Special Olympics training and competition in the world. We approach each endeavor with a single intent - to improve the quality of life for our athletes. The challenges of the future are embraced with enthusiasm and commitment, ensuring that the changing face and needs of our athletes are met.
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide 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.
Special Olympics Texas is divided into four regions with 19 area offices. Athletes may begin training as early as six years old, but must be eight years old to compete. Athletes must be 8 years old to attend statewide competitions. Thanks to the Young Athletes Program (YAP), which launched in 2005, children ages two through seven can participate as an “Athlete in Training” in areas where the program is available.
Special Olympics Texas is a year-round movement, holding more than 300 competitions annually on area, regional and state levels. Event divisions are based on age, gender and ability level to give athletes an equal chance to win. Each participant receives a medal or ribbon following their events.
Special Olympics Texas has six statewide events annually: Summer Games, Equestrian, Sailing/Kayaking, Fall Classic, Winter Games and Flag Football. Statewide competition locations vary approximately every three years.
Special Olympics, Inc. holds World Games every other year and USA National Games every four years.
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Special Olympics Texas athletes must train for a minimum of eight weeks prior to each competition. Volunteer coaches, who are required to first complete a certification program and attend seasonal training schools, are responsible for training the athletes. Competition officials and event directors are also required to attend training schools.
Volunteers are the lifeline of the Special Olympics program. These volunteers serve as coaches, officials, committee members, competition assistants, speech coaches and much more. There are more than 4,051 volunteer coaches involved in the program.
Health programming is an important part of the Special Olympics movement. Healthy LEAP (Lifestyle, Education, and Practice) is a series of health, nutrition, fitness, and safety lessons and practical applications created specifically for youth with and without intellectual disabilities. The curriculum includes topics dedicated to educating and encouraging athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) to maintain a healthy lifestyle through increased physical activity, improved nutrition, and overall emotional and social health.
Special Olympics Texas is a registered 501(c)(3), non-profit organization supported by private donations from individuals, corporations and organizations throughout the state. Special Olympics is “the most credible charity in America” according to a survey in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
In the largest study to date of people with intellectual disabilities and their families, researchers found that Special Olympics Texas leads the nation in the employment of athletes with intellectual disabilities in competitive environments. The study also showed that children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities experience a significant improvement in self-esteem through participating in Special Olympics in the Lone Star State.