The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, 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.
Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, adapted as necessary to meet the needs of those with special mental and physical limitations.
Special Olympics believes that consistent training is essential to the development of sport skills. In addition, competition among those of equal abilities is the most appropriate means of testing these skills, measuring progress and providing incentives for personal growth.
Special Olympics believes that through sports training and competition, people with intellectual disabilities benefit physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Families are also strengthened; and the community at large, can participate in and observe an environment of equality, respect and acceptance.
Special Olympics believes that every person with intellectual disabilities who is at least eight years old should have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from sports training and competition. Special Olympics also permits individual programs to accept children from ages six to seven for training, but these children may not participate in Special Olympics competition.