A Study by Yale University found that Special Olympics measurably enhances the lives of those who participate. According to the study, Special Olympics athletes perform better at home, at work and at school the longer they participate.

The benefits of participation in Special Olympics for people with intellectually disabled [mental retardation] include improved physical fitness and motor skills, greater self-confidence, a more positive self-image, friendships and increased family support. Special Olympics athletes carry these benefits into the classroom, on the job, and in the community. Families who participate become stronger as they learn greater appreciation of their athlete’s talents. Community volunteers find out what good friends the athletes can be. Everyone learns more about the capabilities.

Athletes in Delaware County can choose to participate in any of over 20 sports. Training in each of these sports is available mostly on weekday evenings or weekends, once or twice each week. The training schedules vary in length from eight weeks to eleven months.

Athletes are offered a number of other opportunities to develop other skills, mentally and socially. The Pen Pal Club allows the athletes to communicate with other athletes throughout the state by mail or email. A “Global Messenger” program is available to train the athletes in public speaking. Socials and Summer camps are also available to expand their opportunities.

As they progress, the athletes can choose at what level they would like to participate, either as athlete, volunteer, manager or coach. Other developmental opportunities are available as well to challenge the individual and offer opportunities for development off the playing field. An athlete committee is being formed that the athletes will run themselves, determine their leadership and set their own agenda. Two athletes from this group are presently members of the program’s Management Team and lend valuable insights to that body and they assume a further level of responsibility.

There is never a charge of any kind to participate in the Special Olympics!

While Special Olympics Delaware County receives no funding from the Special Olympics organization, The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation or municipal, state or federal funding, it exists through the generousity of individuals, companies, foundations, schools, community and social groups, churches and the hard work and organizing skills of a 100% volunteer organization.

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