Young Athletes, is an innovative sports play program sponsored by Toy R Us for children with intellectual disabilities. It introduces them to the world of sports prior to Special Olympics eligibility at age 8.
In early 2007, Special Olympics created this pilot program to reach out to children with intellectual disabilities ages 2 to 7, and to welcome them and their families to the Special Olympics movement. The program made its global debut in fall 2007 at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China. Through Young Athletes, volunteers introduce young children to the world of sport, with the goal of preparing them for Special Olympics sports training and competition when they get older.
The program focuses on the basics that are crucial to cognitive development: physical activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and the application of these physical skills through sports skills programs.
Improved social skills is another inspiring reason parents enroll their children in Young Athletes. The confidence boost makes it easier for them to interact with other children on the playground, whether or not they have intellectual disabilities. In May, 2008, Special Olympics launched the Young Athletes Initiative during a family interactive forum for family members of people with intellectual disabilities. 39 young athletes were recruited at this event and counting. Interested in volunteering for the Young Athletes Programme? Fill the volunteer form and input Young Athletes in the Special Interest section.
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