Special Olympics, Illinois is part of a worldwide organization that spans 170 countries, and aims to change the lives of those living with intellectual disabilities, through the joy of sport. Love, care and support of participating athletes and their families is given free of charge. Special Olympics, Illinois relies heavily upon the generous financial support and donations of caring businesses and individuals to continue to reach out to the intellectually disabled and their families.
The mission of Special Olympics, Illinois is to provide a safe and fun environment for intellectually disabled children and adults in which to participate, train and compete in various Olympic-style sports. To provide opportunities for members to improve physical fitness and motor skills, be brave, enjoy new experiences, explore new friendships, develop self-confidence, share their personal skills and talents with others and most of all have fun. The program helps athletes to grow socially, spiritually and mentally.
Special Olympics, Illinois caters to more than 22,000 intellectually disabled adult and child athletes, as well as 20,000 child athletes aged 2 to 7 without intellectual disabilities. The 45,800 wonderful men and women who volunteer their time to coach and assist make it possible to run 290 competition events per year in 18 areas. Each area is managed by an Area Director and a team of volunteer committee members.
Special Olympics, Illinois offers high-quality training and participation in 17 Olympic-style sports, as follows:
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All athletes train for at least 8 weeks before participating at competition level. All athletes are then grouped according to ability, age and gender (if appropriate) so that they compete against their equals. Competitions are held regularly for each event with the opportunity for athletes to qualify to compete at the State and National levels, and ultimately the Special Olympics World Games.
In addition to opening up the world of sports to so many deserving intellectually disabled children and adults, Special Olympics, Illinois provides health services and information to needy individuals, with health screenings available in the areas of physical therapy, audiology, sports physical exams, vision and dentistry through their Healthy Athletes program. The screenings serve a two-fold purpose; to identify any existing health issues and to provide education in living a healthier lifestyle.