To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, you must be at least 8 years old and identified by an agency or professional as having one of the following conditions: intellectual disabilities, cognitive delays as measured by formal assessment, or significant learning or vocational problems due to cognitive delay that require or have required specially designed instruction. Children with intellectual disabilities ages 2 through 7 can take part in the Young Athletes program. People without intellectual disabilities can take part in Unified Sports.
If you are interested in becoming an athlete, please contact the local Program nearest to you.
Please note that before an athlete can begin Special Olympics sports training, the athlete's parent/guardian must complete an Application for Participation.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania offers 21 Olympic-style individual and team sports, and three emerging sport opportunities, that provide meaningful training and competition opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities, completely free of charge.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) offers more than 300 competitions for 16,000 athletes. SOPA operates on a tri-season basis of winter, summer and fall. Athletes are eligible to progress from local, to sectional, to state, to national or even international competition. Special Olympics alternates between World Summer and World Winter Games every two years, similar to the Olympics.
Sports in the Local Community
Athletes select sports available in their local community where they will join a Local Program, a registered and accredited group of one or more athletes, coaches and Unified partners training together in one or more sports. Each Local Program operates within an area of Pennsylvania.
Once a sport is selected, an athlete must commit to training and seasonal play to qualify for sectional and statewide competition. Training and competition experience through practice or league or club play should be incorporated into an 8-10 week sports season.
Unified Sports® joins people with and without disabilities on the same team. Not only do the players all have fun, but attitude change and transformation happens on the playing field and the experiences create lifelong friendships.
We invite you to attend one (or more!) of our upcoming events. Between competitions, fundraisers, health and education opportunities, we keep busy all year long.