How to Be an Athlete or Young Athlete
Welcome to the world of Special Olympics where sports training and athletic competition are provided year-round! Athletes, just like you, are the heart of Special Olympics. Our athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) from across New Hampshire. They find success, joy and friendship as part of our community, and they also have lots of fun!
Uniqueness of Special Olympics
Special Olympics focuses on athletes’ different abilities. Special Olympics athletes can participate as early as 2 in the Young Athletes program, begin training at 6 and train and compete at 8.
What makes Special Olympics unique is that:
- A variety of sports opportunities are provided for all ability levels.
- Ability groups are created through a process called divisioning to provide even competition for all athletes within each ability group (called a division).
- Awards are provided to all participants who compete and include all places of finish in each division.
- There is a process for athlete advancement to higher levels of competition.
- There is no cost to participate, but athletes and family members are expected to help fundraise.
At any age, our athletes are learning new skills, making new friends, staying healthy and gaining confidence.
Every Day, Everywhere
Special Olympics New Hampshire’s trainings and competitions happen year-round and statewide. We offer 19 Olympic-type sports. Whatever your age or skill level, Special Olympics has something for you. Many athletes start in one sport, then go on to try others. Sports offered include alpine skiing, athletics, basketball, bocce, bowling (tenpin and candlepin), cross country skiing, equestrian, fitness, golf, powerlifting, snowboarding, snowshoeing, soccer, softball, sprint triathlon, swimming and Young Athletes.
Through sports, you will see yourself for your abilities, not disabilities. Your world is opened with acceptance and understanding. You will become confident and empowered by your accomplishments. You are joining the most inclusive community on the planet, a community that is growing every day, by participating in Special Olympics.
There are also additional opportunities.
- UNIFIED SPORTS® – inclusive sports program combining approximately equal numbers of individuals with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and without intellectual disabilities (Unified partners).
- ATHLETE LEADERSHIP – training and opportunities beyond sport to represent yourself and Special Olympics like speaking publicly, meeting sponsors and donors, and holding leadership positions within SONH.
- HEALTHY ATHLETES – a program that offers health services and information to athletes in need such as FUNFitness (physical exercise), Healthy Hearing (audiology), Opening Eyes (vision) and Special Smiles (dentistry).
- AT-HOME FITNESS CHALLENGES
Age 2: The Young Athletes Program can engage families by highlighting the power of play. Through a series of structured physical activities, songs and games, children with and without intellectual disabilities, ages 2 to 7 years old, learn basic motor development skills.
Age 6: The minimum age requirement for participation in Special Olympics training is six years of age.
Age 8: The minimum age requirement for participation in Special Olympics competition is eight years of age.
Middle School: In the Unified Champion Schools Program, children in 5th through 8th grades train and compete in basketball, cornhole, athletics. It also includes well-rounded programming (sports, youth leadership, whole school engagement, and sustainability).
High School: In the Unified Champion Schools Program, youth in 9th through 12th grades train and compete in soccer, basketball, athletics. The Program also includes youth leadership, whole school engagement, and sustainability as well as sports.
Beyond high school: There is no maximum age limitation for participation in Special Olympics.
Identifying Persons with Intellectual Disabilities
Every person with an intellectual disability who is at least two years of age is eligible to participate in Special Olympics.
- A person has an intellectual disability for purposes of determining his or her eligibility to participate in Special Olympics if that person satisfies any one of the following requirements:
- The person has been identified by an agency or professional as having an intellectual disability.
- The person has a cognitive delay, as determined by standardized measures such as intelligent quotient (“IQ”) testing or other measures which are generally accepted within the professional community.
- The person has a closely related developmental disability.
Compliance ensures that athletes are safe and healthy to train and compete as well as experience Special Olympics. Before training with their Local Program, every athlete 8 years of age and older must have the Athlete Application for Participation completed and on file in the SONH office. The athlete’s Application needs to be renewed every three years to remain compliant.
*Special note: Currently to participate in SONH activities, all athletes must have a signed Communicable Disease Waiver on file with us.
Please be sure to complete the Athlete Application for Participation.
- Basic Demographic and Health Information
- Parent/Guardian Information
- Emergency Contact Information
- Physician and Insurance Information
- Athlete Release or consent to participate in SONH events
Pages three and four:
- Health History
- Physical Exam, which MUST be signed by a certified medical professional.
- Athlete’s compliance is based on the date of the medical professional’s signature.
Please note – If an athlete has Down syndrome and Atlanto-axial Instability, the part on page 5 of the Athlete Application for Participation – Physical Exam titled “SPINAL CORD COMPRESSION AND ATLANTO-AXIAL INSTABILITY (AAI)” must be completed and signed by a certified medical professional only once.
Before participating in the Young Athletes Program, every Young Athlete (ages 2-7) must have the Young Athlete Application for Participation completed and on file in the SONH office. This Application needs to be renewed every three years. When the Young Athlete turns 8, they complete the Athlete Application for Participation on file in SONH office to train and compete in Special Olympics.
An athlete who is involved in a schools’ program and who joins a Local Program must have the Athlete Application for Participation on file with SONH.
*Please remember each athlete’s information needs to be updated if anything changes.
We invite you to join Special Olympics New Hampshire. Let us know where you live, how we can contact you (email and/or phone) and when you would like to start.
Please contact Shelby Cote by email at ShelbyC@sonh.org or by phone at (603) 933-1093 so that we can connect you with a Local Program, so that you can meet new friends and participate year-round.