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. 

Upcoming 2023 Spring Locations:

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 the world of sports. 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 with and without intellectual disabilities 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 sport opportunity with one of our community programs as early as age 8.

Upcoming 2023 Spring Locations:

We ask all families participating with a Level 2 program to please complete and submit our Athlete Medical Form in addition to the online registration forms on each program page you register for during the year. All medical forms can be emailed to Schools.

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

The goal is to keep young children and their families engaged in the Special Olympics Massachusetts support network for life! If you have any additional questions about Young Athletes or how to start Young Athletes in your area, please connect with Schools.

Additional Information:

Get Involved as a Coach

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:

If interested in learning more, please email Schools for more details.

Young Athletes Play At-Home

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 Schools.

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

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

All activities with participants over the age of 12 Special Olympics Massachusetts will follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC recommendation for masks which is as

  • Fully vaccinated people should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission which is all counties currently in Massachusetts
  • Added information that fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission, particularly if they are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease or not fully vaccinated.
  • Added a recommendation for fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
  • CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • For activities with participants under the age of 12, all individuals wear masks especially if indoors unless there is an exemption as listed in the guidance of the State of MA.

For any questions, please contact Schools.

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 Schools for more details.