Developing Skills for Success
Young Athletes™ is an innovative sports play program for children with intellectual disabilities, ages 3-7, designed to introduce them to the world of sports, prior to Special Olympics eligibility at age 8. The program focuses on the development of fundamental physical skills and the application of those skills through general fitness and recreational activities.
Created in consultation with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the activities foster cognitive and social development, muscular strength, hand-eye coordination and balance. The Special Olympics Kansas (SOKS) program offers two levels of participation. The level one “Motor Skills” clinics focus on the development of motor skills and hand-eye coordination for participants, ages 3-7, while the level two “Little Feet” clinics teach children, ages 5-7, how to apply those physical skills through participation in soccer, track and field, and group exercises and activities.
YOUNG ATHLETES CLINICS
Offered in one hour, family friendly sessions; parents and younger siblings are encouraged to participate. The activities are designed to be used by parents in the home or a preschool/school environment, with a playgroup or in a one-on-one situation. Young, intellectually disabled children who participate in the Motor Skills clinics are provided an activity kit, along with user friendly instructions, to take home and continue working on their skills with their families.
The clinic activities consist of:
- Foundational Skills
- Walking & Running
- Balance & Jumping
- Trapping & Catching
- Advanced Skills
Special Olympics Kansas is excited about this program that builds confidence and brings families together while introducing them to the world of Special Olympics.
We are always looking for potential families to be involved, volunteers willing to be trained to facilitate clinics in their region, and sites to host the Young Athletes™ Programs..
If you are interested in learning how to get your Young Athlete in a program or in hosting a Young Athlete program in your city, contact Jesse Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 913-236-9290 x109
Resources for Families
- Young Athletes at Home: Young Athletes offers families a collection of resources and activities for inclusive play at home.
- Guide for New Parents of Children with ID (PDF): This is a resource guide to support parents and families of children newly diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.
- Young Athletes Family Flashcards (PDF): Fun and engaging flashcards for families to use at home to run Young Athletes activities.
- Young Athletes at Home Guide (PDF): Guide for families and caregivers to continue at home the Young Athletes activities their child is doing in a school or community program.
- Special Olympics Coloring Book (PDF)
- Young Athletes at Home: Training with Special Olympics Athlete Leaders (video): Special Olympics Athlete Leaders from around the world have come together to showcase activities that Young Athletes can do at home.
- Overview & Equipment Recommendations (PDF): One-page PDF to support families implement Young Athletes activities at home.
“The first time Milo came he told me he was nervous and did not think he could do it. I told him I would help him and he agreed to try.
When it came time to jump from one dot to the next, down a line, I helped him on one side and a volunteer on the other. Milo jumped successfully down the line.
He broke into the biggest smile I had ever seen and pride just radiated, illuminating the entire gym. I looked over at his parents and they were beaming with tears in their eyes. In that moment, I thought to myself, “this is why we are here. This one family’s experience makes everything worth it.” The great news is that we get to experience a Milo-like moment every week.”