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Participating in the Special Olympics is free! No participant has to pay for the Special Olympics programs, competitions, and training.��
The athletes are the heart and soul of the Special Olympics. Their participation is a big part of why the Special Olympics exsists. These athletes, children and adults with intellectual disabilities, come from across the globe. At the events, these participants find a loving community that allows them to find joy, success, and friendship.
The Special Olympics currently has 3.7 million athletes ages 8 and up from over 170 different countries. All these participants are different than most, and thus take more time to understand ideas and learn new skills. The Special Olympics even has a Young Athletes programs for kids between the age of 2 and 7. At any age, Special Olympics athletes are learning new skills, making new friends, improving fitness and gaining confidence. The Special Olympics hopes that eventually its program reaches the 200 million people worldwide with intellectual disabilities.
The Special Olympics hold training sessions and competitions for its participants everyday of the year. It offers 32 sports, which means that every participant, no matter age or skill, has something he or she likes and can do. The organization aims to use its sport programs to let their athletes recognize themselves for their abilities, not their disabilities. Their participation in these programs empowers them to be confident about their achievements, to be willing to meet and make new friends, and to be part of “the most inclusive community on the planet”.
From a Special Olympic athlete to a leader/ambassador of the program. Many of the Special Olympics participants gain confidence and abilities through the program, and come back to share their experience, and skills with others. Often they become mentors for other athletes, train to become coaches and officials, or take on a public role as a speaker or spokesperson.