The Special Olympics is the leading global organization that promotes and provides sports training and opportunities to compete for people with intellectual disability. Services are provided directly to individuals in more than 150 countries and in each of the 50 states. Over one million people with intellectual disability participate in Special Olympics training programs and in competition. Thus, the Special Olympics are uniquely situated to help individuals with intellectual disability develop a sense of personal responsibility.
Currently, the Special Olympics serve approximately 1.2 million athletes with intellectual disability annually in more than 150 countries. There are more than twenty thousand local, regional, and national events that are included and held each year. Success in the Special Olympics illustrates how sports may contribute to the lives of children and adults with intellectual disability. Moreover, the Special Olympics have helped to change societal perceptions regarding the accomplishments of persons with intellectual disability.
The Special Olympics provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disability and afford them continuing opportunities to enhance their physical fitness. Individuals, through sports participation, can demonstrate courage in competition, experience success, and share their success with friends, family members, and others in the community. The Special Olympics were founded on the belief that individuals with intellectual disability, through encouragement and instruction, can benefit from participation in individual and team sports, that such participation may lead to physical, psychological, social, and spiritual development. Moreover, it was believed that families could be strengthened through their fam-