What is Young Athletes?

Young Athletes is a sports play program designed to introduce children ages two to seven to the world of physical activity. Children with and without intellectual disabilities participate together, prior to and regardless of Special Olympics eligibility at age eight.

Young Athletes introduces basic sports skills, like running, kicking, and throwing.  This program offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children. 

YAP was developed in direct response to requests from families wanting to engage their young children in physical fitness. The program is solely based on participation; there is no competitive competition, we do offer Young Athlete Sports Day  through a culminating event .

The skills these children learn will improve all areas of their lives, including participating in future sports competitions. Participation in Young Athletes is the first step with creating a Unified or Inclusion based program supported by the Unified Champion Schools opportunities presented within all grade levels of Education. 

What is the Focus of Young Athletes?

Students will work on skills as part of their school day. These skills may be in line with the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals. One to two times a year there will be a culminating day called the Future Stars Sports Day, during which  all students will demonstrate their skills they have learned for family and friends. For more information, please download our Lesson Plan Guide below.

Download Lesson Plan

Physical Activities for YAP

  • Foundational skills
  • Walking and running
  • Balance and jumping
  • Trapping and catching
  • Throwing
  • Striking
  • Kicking
  • Advanced skills

Children will learn these skills through a series of activities like bunny hop, obstacle course and bean bag throw. 

Watch this video for at-home activities you can conduct with your child.   

Realizing the Bright Future of Your Child with an Intellectual Disability

This guide was written to help you step into the new world you will be experiencing. This takes time and hopefully this guide will be useful along your new path. You will receive information about:

  • how your child got the diagnosis
  • how to cope with the feelings you might be experiencing
  • steps to finding out possible causes for your child’s intellectual disability
  • finding the right therapies and supports for your child
  • resources that you may want to use, and a glimpse of the future

Download this Guide for New Parents

Who Benefits?

Benefits to Athletes

  • Socialization: the YAP is a foundation for Unified Champion Schools Activities , a school-based  initiative that promotes acceptance and inclusion between students with and without intellectual disabilities.
  • Coordination and strength building
  • Awareness of self worth and self confidence
  • Introduction to sports and preparation for competitions when they are of age

Benefits for Families & Resources

  • Introduces families to the resources and support available within Special Olympics
  • Offers families the opportunity to share in the success of their future athlete
  • View Young Athletes educational cards here
  • View Young Athletes At Home Guide for families to utilize while at home during Covid or at anytime.

How to Get Involved


To learn more, email UCSinfo@sotx.org or Sam  at sgooden@sotx.org

Additionally, you can contact your area office for more information.