Special Olympics Texas not only provides year-round sports training and competition, but also health and inclusion programs for individuals of all ages with intellectual disabilities.
Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) allow athletes to explore opportunities for participation in roles previously considered “non-traditional.”
Through ALPs, athletes serve on the Board of Directors or local organizing committees.
Athletes excel as spokespersons, team captains, volunteers, coaches and officials.
Young Athletes is for athletes ages two to seven. It focuses on developing fundamental motor tracking and eye-hand coordination through physical play. This participation-based program also introduces the child to the world of sports and begins to prepare them for competition, which can start at age eight. When a child turns eight, they will enter into Developmental Sports, a program that provides an age-appropriate introduction to sports for children with and without intellectual disabilities. Children can start this program as early as age 6, or remain with their friends until they turn eight years of age. These sport-specific, inclusive, and age appropriate activities are not meant to be structured as new Special Olympics programs or initiatives, but rather can be used to support a child’s transition to traditional Special Olympics participation, or as an introduction to Unified Sports.
FUNdamental Sports includes three core principles: Foundational Skills, Unified Partners, and No Limits. Together, these three concepts put the “FUN” in FUNdamental Sports. This program establishes individualized programs for athletes ages two and older who, due to their physical and/or developmental abilities, are working on foundational motor skills to prepare them for possible competitions in official Special Olympics events. As the athlete learns the sport progressions, he/she comes closer to acquiring skills considered essential for participation in official Special Olympics competitions and daily life activities. FUNdamental Sports are also designed for athletes who are unable to participate in official Special Olympics sport competitions because of their skill and/or functional abilities. Participation is accomplished through use of adapted equipment and physical assistance that are matched to the individual’s level of need. Athletes are not limited in the number or types of equipment and assistance that is used in order to achieve success.
Healthy Athletes provides free health screenings in a fun, welcoming environment that removes the anxiety and trepidation people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a doctor or dentist. Healthy Athletes currently offers health screenings in eight disciplines: Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion ( prevention and nutrition), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest ( history and physical exam, to include completion of the Athlete Medical Form), Opening Eyes (vision), Strong Minds (emotional health),and Special Smiles (dentistry).
Unified Champion Schools is a unique program that promotes acceptance and inclusion between students with and without intellectual disabilities in schools. Participants team up to promote advocacy, acceptance, friendship, fitness and sports opportunities. Unified Champion Schools utilize three interconnected components: Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement, which are intentionally planned and implemented activities aimed at affecting systems-wide change. Benefits of participation include: character development, moral intelligence, leadership, fitness and positive impact on school culture, including bullying prevention.
Unified Sports® teams allow athletes to participate in sports activities with peers without disabilities.Unified Sports® teams are composed of equal numbers of Special Olympics athletes, friends, family members, staff, or other partners. These teams practice and compete together against other teams of the same composition, or can compete in city or intramural leagues. It is truly an opportunity for everyone to get involved.