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Special Olympics

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities by giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

The Family YMCA of Fayette County became a participating agency in Special Olympics Illinois Southwestern/Area 12 in 2012. To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, a person must be at least 8 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 delays that require or have required specially designed instruction. Individuals with intellectual disabilities, who have physical disabilities, may also participate.

Special Olympics Illinois athletes range in age from 8 to over 90. They come from every part of the state and from every economic group. They all have this thing in common – the desire to do their best and have fun at the same time. Children and adults with intellectual disabilities who participate in Special Olympics develop improved physical fitness and motor skills, greater self-confidence and a more positive self-image. They grow mentally, socially and spiritually and, through their activities, exhibit boundless courage and enthusiasm, enjoy the rewards of friendship and ultimately discover not only new abilities and talents but “their voices” as well. Athletes train for a minimum of eight weeks and compete locally before advancing to the next level of competition. Eight state tournaments, including Summer and Winter Games, allow the athletes to show their skills.

Sports offered in Area 12 that The Family YMCA of Fayette County athletes can compete in are: Athletics (Track & Field), Aquatics, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Golf, Gymnastics, Motor Activities Training Program (MATP), Powerlifting, Snowshoeing, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball, Unified Bocce, Unified Golf, plus skills competitions in Basketball, Golf, Soccer, Softball and Volleyball.

In order to train or compete in Special Olympics, an athlete must be examined by a physician and have a current Medical Application on file. Medical Applications are valid for two years. To be a coach, he/she must complete a Class A Volunteer Form (background check - good for 3 years) and complete Protective Behaviors training. Responsibilities of a coach are: help to recruit athletes and assistant coaches, assist athletes in learning sports skills and applying them in competitions and encourage confidence and self-esteem through sport.

Click HERE to learn more about Special Olympics Illinois!