Young Athletes™ is an innovative sports play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities age 2 to 7. The program includes active games, songs, and other play activities that help children develop motor, social, and cognitive skills. The Young Athletes™ Curriculum is based on the Young Athletes™ Activity Guide and provides scripted Lesson Plans to be used over an 8 week period. Check out our Young Athletes One Page Snapshot.
There are three unique models of Young Athletes™ Programs: At Home, School Based, and Community Based.
- At Home: The At Home model is implemented at home by a parent or caregiver for an individual child or a child and siblings.
- School Based: The School Based model is implemented in a preschool, day care, or elementary school setting for a class of students by a teacher or paraprofessional.
- Community Based: The Community Based model is implemented in a community setting in a park, church, school gym, or another donated or rented space for members of the community by a trained volunteer.
Contact your local program representatives to see what local Young Athletes™ program is available and accepting new participants in your area. If you would like to start a Young Athletes Program in your home, school or community, please log into the online volunteer portal to complete a basic training. The training can be found under the "Training Schools, Webinars and More" tab and consists of a 25 minute video and a short quiz. Once you have completed both, you will be contacted by Young Athletes staff liaison, Jordan Schubert to schedule a call with you, your Local Program Manager/Director and anyone else you would like to be a part of the conversation. If you have any questions on this training, or anything else related to Young Athletes, contact Jordan at email@example.com.
Support and Inspiration
The Young Athletes™ program helps children all around the world, thanks to the support of The Mattel Children's Foundation, Toys R Us, Kim Samuel and the Lynch Family Foundation. Their help leads children with intellectual disabilities into a bright new world of sports and social skills, pride and possibility.
Activity Guides and Kits
- The Young Athletes™ @ Home Guide, Activity Guide, and Equipment Kits are available from Special Olympics PA by contacting Jordan Schubert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- At Home participants will receive a Young Athletes™ @ Home Guide that will provide you with the tools and resources that allow you to play with your child in a non-clinical setting, while promoting the development of many cognitive and physical skills.
- At School and Community Based participants will receive a Young Athletes™ Equipment Kit and Program Manual (including the Activity Guide, Lesson Plans, and more) that will provide you with the tools and resources to begin a group Young Athletes™ program. Please refer to the Young Athletes Toolkit and Lesson Guidebook with any questions about equipment and how to run a Home, School or Community based Young Athletes Program.
- Special Olympics Pennsylvania always pushes its athletes to perform at their very best. The same thing applies in Young Athletes. Young Athletes volunteers now have the opportunity to track their athletes’ progress through the Motor Skills Assessment.
Young Athletes Exhibitions at State Events
Special Olympics Pennsylvania offers one day Young Athletes exhibitions at two of its state events: The Indoor Winter Games at the York Expo Center in York, PA (the first Saturday of every March) and Young Athletes One Page Snapshot at Villanova University in Villanova, PA (the first Saturday of every November). These exhibitions are a chance for Young Athletes to take part in sports skills stations, make new friends and see what Special Olympics Pennsylvania offers beyond Young Athletes. This is also an opportunity to attract potential new Young Athletes and their families to current Local Program liaisons. As more Local Programs begin offering Young Athletes, more exhibitions will be hosted at other state level events.
Special Olympics Beyond Young Athletes
Once an athlete turns 6, they are eligible to begin training in Special Olympics sports with their Local Program. Once they turn 8, they are then eligible to begin competing. To learn more about transitioning from Young Athletes to your Local Program, please review our informational handout.
- Young Athletes™ Nutrition Guide
- Young Athletes™ Nutrition Activities
- Young Athletes™ Warm Up and Stretching Guide
- Young Athletes Certificate-PPT
- Young Athletes Certificate-PDF
Activity Guide Videos
- Foundational Skills
- Walking and Running
- Balance and Jumping
- Trapping and Catching
- Advanced Sports Skills