Special Olympics International

Logo for Special Olympics International

The Revolution is Inclusion

Date Founded



Education, Healthcare and Sports




The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Services Provided

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit every day around the world through the transformative power and joy of sport. Through programming in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is tackling the inactivity, stigma, isolation, and injustice that people with intellectual disabilities (ID) face. Its work goes far beyond sports events, driving social change that enables full social participation for people with ID.

There are as many as 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world. The goal is to reach out to every one of them—and their families as well. Special Olympics does this through a wide range of trainings, competitions, health screenings and fund-raising events. It also create opportunities for families, community members, local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, celebrities, dignitaries and others to band together to change attitudes and support athletes.


Special Olympics supports over 6 million athletes, 1 million coaches and volunteers, more than 100,000 competitions each year, and 32 Olympic-type sports through programs in more than 190 countries.

Games and Competition

No other event in the world has the social and emotional impact of the Special Olympics World Games. For the athletes and their families, the experience opens doors to unimagined possibilities. For volunteers, coaches, and other supporters from all parts of the world, the Games inspire hope and belief in a brighter future of global acceptance, understanding, and unity.

Inclusive Health

Despite severe need and higher health risks, people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are often denied health services and die on average 16 years sooner than the general population.

Special Olympics Health, made possible by the Golisano Foundation and in the United States in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is creating a world where people with intellectual disabilities have every opportunity to be healthy.

School of Strength

A whole new way to exercise, featuring WWE Superstar Becky Lynch. Work out with these videos five times a week.

Unified Schools

Special Olympics Unified Schools powers youth and educators to be leaders of change. By playing and learning we will create a more inclusive world. 


Special Olympics is shaping a new understanding of leadership, inspired by our athletes, and unleashing leadership potential in people of all abilities. 

The Revolution Is Inclusion

More than 50 years ago, Special Olympics launched a global movement to break down barriers and end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.

Since then, this peaceful revolution has been changing lives all around the world. Join "The Revolution Is Inclusion"—and be part of a powerful new generation that celebrates all differences, all abilities! Sign the Inclusion Pledge.

Additional Resources

How Many People Reached

Annually, Special Olympics International supports over 6 million athletes and unified partners, over 500,000 coaches and more than 110,000 competitions each year.  Special Olympics holds 32 Olympic-type sports programs in over 190 countries. Read more in it's annual report.

How Donations Are Used

Donations make possible Special Olympics’ global work to provide year-round sports training and athletic competitions, health screenings, and leadership-building opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Through the generosity of donors and the power of sport, Special Olympics empowers people with intellectual disabilities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and shatter long-held stigmas.

Project Spotlight

The Special Olympics World Winter Games in Kazan, Russia in 2022 will serve as a catalyst that will challenge perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities, and all people with differences, and demonstrate to the world the power of sport to establish thriving, inclusive communities by transforming attitudes and behaviors.

From 22 – 28 January 2022, 2,000 athletes and Unified partners from 108 nations and 3,000 volunteers from all over the world will gather in Kazan to create acceptance and inclusion through sport, volunteerism, education and health.

From 17 to 24 June 2023 (as of May 2020), the Special Olympics World Games will take place in Berlin – the first time that Germany has hosted the Games! This colorful international festival of sports aims to achieve greater recognition and social participation of people with intellectual disabilities in our society.

Special Olympics World Games are the world's largest inclusive sports event. Thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities compete together in 24 summer sports and Unified Sports® competitions. Nine days of exciting and inspiring competitions, by athletes and for athletes.

Awards and Accreditations

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) just announced Special Olympics Europe Eurasia won a 2020 Content Marketing Award for Best Use of Multichannel Social Media in Content Marketing for the "Keeping Up with the Girls" campaign.

Where To Donate

Donate here.


1133 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036-3604
(202) 628-3630
(800) 700-8585
Department listing 

Newsletter Sign-up

Join today.