What We Do

Young Athletes Program

Level 1

Special Olympics Young Athletes is an inclusive sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes introduces basic sport and motor skills, like running, jumping, balancing, kicking, throwing and locomotor movements. Young Athletes offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children. Children of all abilities take part, and they all benefit. 

Through Young Athletes, children learn how to play with others, learn to share, take turns and follow directions. These skills will help children in family, community and school activities.

Young Athletes is also a fun way for children to get fit! It is important to teach children healthy habits such as exercise, hydration and nutrition while they are young. This can set the stage for a life of physical activity, friendships and learning. Young Athletes is easy to do and fun for all. Activities can be done at home, in schools or in the community using the Young Athletes Activity Guide and basic equipment.

2021 Winter Season In-Person Program Sites:

Level 2

When a child becomes comfortable with the Level 1 Young Athletes activities introduced, they can then transition to participate with a Level 2 program. Level 2 classes focus on individual sport skill development and early game play concepts. This is a nice bridge program for children who may not necessarily be ready for Special Olympics team sports, but still need gradual introduction to sport. A variety of sports can be covered during a Level 2 program such as track & field, soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball, floorball and flag football. Children ages 6-12 are eligible to participate.

We allow for a little bit of overlap in age groups, so a child can participate wherever they feel most comfortable. Once a child is ready, they can join a team sports opportunity with one of our community programs as early as age 8.

2021 Winter Season In-Person Program Sites:

Get Involved as a Young Athlete

New to the Young Athletes community? Please sign up for our email list to be notified of all Young Athletes program opportunities and resources available in Massachusetts throughout the year:

Young Athletes Email List

After signing up for the email list, we will send you a welcome packet. The goal is to keep young children and their families engaged in the Special Olympics Massachusetts support network for life!

Young Athletes Coaches Training

For any interested volunteers who would like to get involved as a Young Athletes coach at one of our community program sites, we will be hosting quarterly trainings over Zoom which you can join before getting started! During the trainings, we will review the different activities covered during a level 1 and level 2 program, ways to modify activities to meet everyone’s needs, and look at best practices of how to structure a program. Our first pair of upcoming trainings will take place on Friday, April 16th (from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm) and Saturday, April 17th  (2:00 pm – 3:30 pm). Please register below. 

Young Athletes Coaches Training Registration

All participants will receive a Young Athletes quarter-zip sweatshirt in the mail. 

Volunteer Positions

As we continue to get new in-person training opportunities up and running again for Special Olympics athletes, one area of focus will be on growing our Young Athletes program reach within the community. We are looking to form a team of new volunteer coaches and site coordinators who can help to provide the leadership and oversight needed at new and prospective program sites. Please view the volunteer role descriptions below:

Areas which we have either confirmed or are close to securing outdoor facility space this spring season include Beverly, Marlboro, Milford, Revere, Salem, Weston, and Westwood. If you aren’t local to any of those areas, we’d still love to connect about potentially getting a Young Athletes program started near you! If interested in learning more, please email: Eric.Archambault@SpecialOlympicsMA.org for more details.

Young Athletes Zoom Classes

Monday Afternoon Sessions

  • This program is run by Young Athletes Coaches Eric Archambault, Margaret Ford and Gene Callahan
  • Dates: January 4th, 11th, 26th, February 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, March 1st. 
  • Time: 5:00 pm – 5:40 pm
  • Please register to participate HERE.
  • The link to access the Zoom meeting room can be found HERE.

During each session, we will be covering a variety of fun activities which aid in motor skill development through obstacle courses, animal games, follow the leader, basics of throwing & catching, etc. We will also focus on some specific skill development in the sports of floor hockey and basketball.

Virtual Story Time

We are excited to share that we will continue on with our Story Time Zooms heading into 2021!

We meet every Thursday at 5:30 pm.

Each week, we read a fun children’s story, with interactive movements incorporated into the reading. The link to register for the Zoom sessions can be found HERE.

Young Athletes At-Home Resources

Check out the different ways you can set up activities to practice At Home!

You can also refer to these Quick Tips of how to set up your own at-home schedule and follow along with the Family Flashcards which come in multiple languages. If you’d like a set of flashcards to use at home, please email Eric Archambault.

Additional resources to utilize at home such as videos and printables can also be found Here.

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

Special Olympics Massachusetts has entered phase 3 of returning to play as of Monday, August 3rd. 

We will continue hosting our virtual Zoom classes into 2021 and will continue to monitor the state guidelines to determine when its appropriate to set up in-person programs again. For any questions, please contact Eric Archambault.

Find a Program Near You

Program Locations

Please refer to the map below to find a Young Athletes program location near you. You can select the icons on the map which includes a link to each program’s registration form. All programs meet at different times during the year. As that information becomes available, we will inform you through email.

Any new Young Athlete program locations will be added to this map throughout the year as well.

Starting a New Program:

If interested in learning more about how to start a Young Athletes program within your local community groups, Early Childhood Centers, Pre-K/Elementary Schools, agencies and universities, we would love to work with you to make that happen! The Special Olympics Young Athletes Resources page contains everything you would need to start a program including the Young Athletes activity guide, instructional videos and coaches training guides.

Please contact Eric Archambault for more details.

Athlete Transition

Once an athlete reaches the age of 8 years old, they become eligible to join one of our community based programs that train and compete in the different Olympic style sports that Special Olympics Massachusetts offers. This is the next step in participation after completing the Young Athletes and/or Developmental Sports program.

To find a community program near you, please contact Eric Archambault for more details.