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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. You can register for one of our program sites below:


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. You can register for one of our program sites below:


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! If you have any additional questions about Young Athletes or how to start Young Athletes in your area, please connect with Eric Archambault.


Additional Information:

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:

If interested in learning more, please email Eric Archambault for more details.

Virtual Young Athletes

We are excited to share that we will continue on with our Story Time Zoom sessions throughout 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 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 Eric Archambault.

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

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

Effective Monday, May 10, the state of Massachusetts will enter Phase IV, Step 2 and that effects Special Olympics MA as follows (Boston will move to Phase IV Step 2 on a 3 week delay to State – gathering allowances for public facilities is 100/150):

  • Gathering allowances for all private facilities will remain at 10 for all indoor and 25 outdoors. Gathering limits for public facilities will increase to 200 indoors and 250 outdoors effective Saturday, May 29.
  • Youth sports, high school sports and amateur adult sports programs are exempt from those limits and can be implemented under facility capacity limits. Facilities such as Bowling Centers
    and indoor recreation areas such as gyms must comply with the overall capacity limit which is now at 50%, so all facility limits should be confirmed prior to a scheduled practice and competition.
  • Mask order will be relaxed for some outdoor settings where you can practice social distance.
  • Special Olympics Massachusetts office will adhere to the 50% capacity; will open August 2 completely.
  • Check local jurisdictions for any additional guidance – i.e. Somerville and Boston

We will continue hosting our virtual Zoom classes throughout 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.

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.