What You Need to Know!
Special Olympics North Carolina (SONC) offers sports training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Most of the sports have a training season of about 8 weeks with an average of 1-2 practices per week.
A person can begin competing when they are 8 years old and keep going as long as they want! A Young Athletes Program is available for children ages 2-7.
Participation in Special Olympics is free!
There is something happening in Special Olympics every day!
An individual is qualified for Special Olympics participation if they have been identified by an agency/professional as having an intellectual disability . The causes of intellectual disabilities are varied including not just Down Syndrome but also Fragile X Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and various developmental causes such as autism. There are some Special Olympics athletes who may also have a physical disability but this is not what qualifies them to participate in the program.
The ability levels of Special Olympics athletes range from an athlete who needs a flotation device to complete their 25 yard swim to an athlete who can complete the 1500 yard (equivalent of about a mile) swim in 23 minutes. The best thing is that no matter where an athlete falls in this range, they have the opportunity to win a gold medal as they are put in competitive groupings with their peers (divisioning)!
The First Steps
You must complete an athlete participation form which includes a medical examination by a medical professional (doctor, PA, or family, registered or pediatric nurse practitioner) and register as a Special Olympics athlete through your local program.
If you would like to learn more about becoming an athlete, complete the online athlete interest form.
If you do not have an intellectual disability but are interested in competing alongside your friend, sibling, etc. who does qualify for Special Olympics, you can do so through Unified Sports!
In addition to sports training and competition, Special Olympics athletes have the opportunity to do much more!