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Special Olympics Australia is part of a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Our volunteers create accessible sports training, coaching and competition opportunities which are offered week-in and week-out in local communities throughout Australia.
Despite what many people think, we’re not the Paralympics. The Paralympics is for elite athletes, mainly with physical disability. Special Olympics is for people with intellectual disability.
At Special Olympics Australia everyone with an intellectual disability is welcome. Some participants join to have fun, make friends and enjoy the warmth of a welcoming community, while others are focussed on winning and receiving medals.
We’re not just a major sports event. Special Olympics provides year-round sports training in multiple sports as well as competition at local, state, national and international level. The pinnacle of our competition ladder is the World Games which is hosted on a four-year cycle in summer and winter sports. We also provide health and leadership programs.
Almost 600,000 Australians have an intellectual disability. They are the largest disability population in the country and the world, and in Australia another child is diagnosed with an intellectual disability every two hours.
People with intellectual disability can learn new skills and can accomplish goals. They just learn differently, or need more time or support to succeed.
Our focus is to make ability visible. Unlike physical disability, intellectual disability is sometimes invisible.
Through sport we allow people with an intellectual disability to demonstrate what they can do, rather what people think they can’t. Our logo tells the story of how this makes them feel:
The figure with arms limply by their side represents a person with an intellectual disability facing challenges and isolation before joining Special Olympics Australia.
The figure with arms outstretched represents a new athlete discovering their skills and gaining confidence in their ability.
The figure with arms raised in joy represents an athlete celebrating their talents and proudly receiving the applause of families, friends and fans.
The “globe of figures” represents our worldwide sporting community that values people with intellectual disability, supports their goals and celebrates their achievements.
Athletes get fit, have fun, make friends and develop confidence through sport.
Families gain a network of support that helps them understand what’s possible which inspires hope for the future.
The public open their hearts and minds to people with an intellectual disability when they get to know them and this helps build inclusive communities.
Inclusive communities have a respect for diversity.
Corporate partners can demonstrate social responsibility, diversity, inclusion and volunteering strategies in action.
Schools and disability service providers can get their clients fit for life through tailored programs.