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Press Releases & Media Alerts

Press Release for November 15, 2018

North Penn High School To Receive National Recognition from Special Olympics for Achievements with Inclusion

Media Alert: Special Olympics PA's 4th Annual Erie Polar Plunge, Nov. 17

Press Release for November 13, 2018

George Washington High School to Celebrate National Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools Banner Presentation for Inclusion Achievements, Nov. 16th

Media Alert: Celebrating George Washington High School

Press Release for November 2, 2018

4th Annual Erie Polar Plunge Benefiting Special Olympics PA to be Held at Presque Isle State Park, Nov. 17th

Media Alert:  Fall Festival Weekend, Nov. 2 - 4, 2018

Press Release for October 29, 2018

Special Olympics PA and Villanova University Celebrate 30th Annual Fall Festival, Nov. 2 - 4

Press Release for September 27, 2018

Special Olympics Pennsylvania to Hold Annual Eastern Fall Sectional at DeSalle College - 10/14

Press Releases for September 17, 2018

Special Olympics Pennsylvania to Hold Annual Central Fall Sectional at Juniata College – 9/23

Special Olympics Pennsylvania to Hold Annual Western Fall Sectional at Slippery Rock University – 9/23

Media Alert for May 28, 2018

8th Annual "Be A Fan" Torch Run from Pittsburgh to State College

Press Release for May 23, 2018

Over 2,000 & 750 Coaches To Compete At Special Olympics PA's 49th Annual Summer Games At Penn State University, May 31 - June 2

Media Alert for May 2, 2018

Kutztown University To Host Special Olympics Pennsylvania’s Statewide Sectional – Eastern Spring Sectional

Media Alert for April 27, 2018

Saint Francis University Hosts Special Olympics PA's 2018 Central Spring Sectional



Reporting Guidelines

Background Information:

  • Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities.
  • These athletes, who may or may not have a physical disability, represent programs from more than 170 countries from all the major continents.
  • Special Olympics operates on funds raised at the international, national, state and local levels from corporations, individuals, special events and grants.
  • Special Olympics is sports, competition and socialization, meaning that the benefits include not only fitness coordination and cardiovascular improvements but also confidence, discipline, self-esteem, and fun. 
  • From the start, Special Olympics has made training the priority and has established strict guidelines to ensure that every athlete receives quality training before competing.  To improve the quality of training, Special Olympics instituted a program of coaches training curriculum and certification in 1981.
  • Every athlete who competes in Special Olympics events will compete against athletes of similar ability, since athletes are placed in competition divisions according to previous times or scores, age, and, where appropriate, gender. 
  • Special Olympics serves the needs of athletes of all ability levels, including those with more severe mental retardation or closely related disabilities in addition to mental retardation; and high-functioning athletes who may be able to move into mainstream sports or participate in Unified Sports.®
  • Special Olympics has organizations in place from the local level right up to the international level. Every state (Chapter) and National Special Olympics program has its own staff, its own board of directors, and its own network of area, provincial, and local programs.
  • Special Olympics Inc. is officially recognized and endorsed by the International Olympic Committee and is the first organization other than a National Olympic Committee to be recognized.
  • Special Olympics is endorsed and supported by the National Governing Bodies of the sports which it offers, and competitions are conducted according to the rules of those bodies, with appropriate adaptations. These rules are in the Official Special Olympics Summer and Winter Rules books.

Photography Release Statement:

No athlete may compete in any Special Olympics event without having a signed parent/guardian release statement on file with Special Olympics.  The statement grants  permission for Special Olympics and the media to use the athlete’s name, likeness, voice and words in television, radio, films, newspapers, magazines, and other media for the purpose of promoting and publicizing Special Olympics, educating the public about Special Olympics  and raising funds for Special Olympics.

Language Guidelines

The following language guidelines have been developed by experts in the field of intellectual disabilities for use by anyone writing or speaking about persons with mental retardation or closely related developmental disabilities, to ensure that all people are portrayed with individuality and dignity.

Use the following correct terminology:

  • A person has intellectual disabilities, rather than is suffering from, afflicted with, or a victim of mental retardation. It is preferred terminology not to write or say that a person is mentally retarded.
  • Down Syndrome has replaced Down’s Syndrome and mongoloid. 
  • Physically challenged or disabled rather than crippled.
  • Someone who is partially sighted is visually impaired rather than blind.
  • A person has a seizure rather than a fit.
  • A person has a seizure disorder or epilepsy, rather than is epileptic.
  • Distinguish between adults and children with intellectual disabilities, and older or younger athletes.
  • Refer to people in Special Olympics as athletes. The word athletes should not appear in quotation marks.
  • When writing, refer to persons with a disability in the same style as person without a disability: full name on first reference and last name on subsequent references. 
  • A person uses a wheelchair rather than is confined or restricted to a wheelchair.

Do not use the following terminology:

  • Do not use the word kids when referring to Special Olympics athletes. Adult athletes are an integral part of the program.
  • Do not use the adjective unfortunate when talking about persons with intellectual disabilities.
  • Do not use the word “the” in front of Special Olympics unless describing a specific Special Olympics event.
  • Do not sensationalize the accomplishments of people with a disability. While these accomplishments should be recognized and applauded, people in the disability rights movement have tried to make the public aware of the negative impact of referring to the achievements of physically or mentally challenged people with excessive hyperbole.  Do not overuse the word special when referring to persons with intellectual disabilities. Their accomplishments should not be trivialized by using cute words to describe their efforts. 
  • According to Special Olympics Inc.’s charter with the International Olympic Committee, we are not to use the term Olympian. This means that we must not refer to the athletes as Special Olympians, but rather as Special Olympics athletes.

For more information, contact Nicole L. Jones, Director of Communications at 610-630-9450, ext. 231, or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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