Follow these steps to become an athlete in your area
Contact the Sports and Program Manager for your area to help you find out what programs are available to you and connect with those programs.
Complete the form(s) below that apply to you (Eligibility guidelines can be found further down the page):
Athlete Application for Participation: must be completed in full before any athlete participates in any Special Olympics training or events.
Special Release for Athletes with Down Syndrome: must be completed upon initial participation in the program for individuals with Down Syndrome.
Unified Sports Partner Consent: this consent is included within this Volunteer/Unified Partner Profile Form, and must be completed by any Unified Sports Partner before initial participation.
Are you a Special Olympic Athlete that used to participate when you were in school but have graduated? Do you want to get back involved in Special Olympics? Complete this Transition Flyer and we will help you find a new program!
Do you want to know the benefits to participating in Special Olympics? Click here to read more!
Have fun trying new sports and traveling to new places!
To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics Georgia, you must be at least eight years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specifically designed instruction.
**ESPANOL**Para poder participar en las Olimpiadas Especiales, tienes que tener por lo menos ocho años y haber sido diagnosticado por una agencia o profesional con una de las siguientes condiciones: discapacidad intelectual, retraso cognitivo medido por exámenes formales, o problemas significativos de aprendizaje o vocacionales que requieran o hayan requerido programas educacionales especiales.**
There is no cost to participate in Special Olympics. All prospective athletes must register to participate in Special Olympics Georgia. A completed Application for Participation must be on file before competing in or practicing for a Special Olympics Georgia event.
Contact the Sports and Program Manager for your area for registration information.
There is no maximum age limitation for participation in Special Olympics. The minimum age requirement for participation in Special Olympics Georgia competition is 8 years of age.
While the minimum age requirement for competition is 8 years of age, athletes ages 2-7 can participate via the Young Athletes Program.
Young Athletes is an innovative sports play program for children ages 2 through 7. This program is comprised of a series of developmentally appropriate activities designed specifically for young children and their family members. The Young Athletes program seeks to strengthen physical development and self-esteem for children by building skills for future sports participation and socialization prior to Special Olympics competition eligibility.
The Young Athletes program is versatile so that it can work in various learning situations. The program is designed for families to play with their young athletes at home in a fun atmosphere. It is also appropriate for preschools, schools, playgroups to use with small group of young children with and without intellectual disabilities.
To learn more about Young Athletes, or to start a program please contact your Sports and Program Manager.
Identifying Persons with Intellectual Disabilities
How prevalent are intellectual disabilities? Intellectual disability knows no boundaries. It cuts across the lines of racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic backgrounds, and it can occur in any family.
In the context of Special Olympics, the term “intellectual disabilities” is a synonym for mental retardation. Therefore, Special Olympics uses the definition of intellectual disabilities provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations’ specialized agency for health. According to the WHO, intellectual disability is a condition of arrested or incomplete development of the mind characterized by impairment of skills and overall intelligence in areas such as cognition, language, and motor and social abilities. Intellectual disability can occur with or without any other physical or mental disorders. Although reduced level of intellectual functioning is the characteristic feature of this disorder, the diagnosis is made only if it is associated with a diminished ability to adapt to the daily demands of the normal social environment. (Visit http://www.who.int for more information.)
A person is considered to have an intellectual disability for purposes of determining his or her eligibility to participate in Special Olympics Georgia if that person satisfies any one of the following requirements:
The person has been identified by an agency or professional as having an intellectual disability as determined by their localities; or
The person has a cognitive delay, as determined by standardized measures such as intelligent quotient or “IQ” testing or other measures that are generally accepted within the professional community in that Accredited Program’s nation as being a reliable measurement of the existence of a cognitive delay; or
The person has a closely related developmental disability. A “closely related developmental disability” means having functional limitations in both general learning (such as IQ) and in adaptive skills (such as in recreation, work, independent living, self-direction, or self-care). However, persons whose functional limitations are based solely on a physical, behavioral, or emotional disability, or a specific learning or sensory disability, are not eligible to participate as Special Olympics Georgia athletes, but may be eligible to volunteer for Special Olympics as partners in Unified Sports®, if they otherwise meet the separate eligibility requirements for participation in Unified Sports set forth in the Sports Rules.
Degree of Disability
Participation in Special Olympics training and competition is open to all persons with intellectual disabilities who meet the age requirements, regardless of the level or degree of that person’s disability, and whether or not that person also has other mental or physical disabilities, so long as that person registers to participate in Special Olympics as required.
Individuals with profound disabilities can participate through Special Olympics Motor Activities Training Program (MATP), developed by physical educators, physical therapists and recreation therapists. MATP emphasizes training and participation rather than competition.