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Our Families

Families are the No. 1 fans of our Special Olympics athletes. They give the type of love, support and encouragement that no one else can. Special Olympics is a support network that brings families together in a caring, positive way -- and that makes the cheers for our athletes even louder.

A mom gives a hug to two happy athletes at once

Smiles All Around. A mom gives a hug to two Special Olympics athletes at once.

Among Friends

At Special Olympics competitions and events, family members are among friends – and feel at home. They watch with pride as their child, sibling, cousin, grandchild, aunt or uncle find success and joy.

They are also among people who really understand. Because even family members can be unaware of all that their child or relative with an intellectual disability can do.

A mother in Great Britain says families are part of the team -- working together to make it all happen. "Everyone in the programme accepts each other without question. Everyone works as a team supporting each other." She says her son has made great strides since joining Special Olympics. "I know this has meant a great deal to him and, as a mum, to watch Jamie achieve and believe in himself is just wonderful." 


About Intellectual Disability

Special Olympics is a global movement of people who want to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. But what are intellectual disabilities? Learn More

Building Communities

Many family members become spokespeople or volunteers, coaches, fund-raisers and officials – giving them an important voice in Special Olympics.

Families are also an essential link to the community and wider support for our movement. By joining the Family Support Network, becoming a volunteer, and leading the expansion of Young Athletes, Special Olympics family members can really make a difference.

Families build communities by volunteering at athletic trainings, sharing links and information, talking online via a global network and serving in leadership roles. For every family member who gets involved, Special Olympics has a reason to celebrate.


Stories About Our Families


March 05, 2015 | North America: New York

Picture worth 1000 words

By anthony Ptak

Whenever I hear someone use the R-word I show that person a picture of my son and tell them how proud I am of him, and how well he's doing at school, and how words affect how people perceive my son.View Story Whenever I hear someone use the R-word I show that person a picture of my son and tell them how proud I am of him, and how well he's doing at school, and how words affect how people perceive my son, and how it makes the world a difficult place for him to be his best. Usually the person is ashamed of themselves and I ask them to remember my son, and choose a different word next time.

About anthony Ptak :I'm a proud dad, educator and advocate for my son who happens to have Down Syndrome, trisomy 21.
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Canada

Educating children at an early age.

By Anne M.

From the time my children were young it was forbidden to say, they were advised alternatives. My son at 10 years old volunteered with special needs on his recesses and noon hours.View Story From the time my children were young it was forbidden to say, they were advised alternatives. My son at 10 years old volunteered with special needs on his recesses and noon hours. He grew very fond of one young boy and went to this boy's mom and told her she was very lucky for having "Steve". It made her cry. Educate children and see that the R-word is never part of their vocabulary.

About Anne M.:I am just a mother who has tried hard to raise her children with respect and good morals.
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Ohio

Inclusive Living

By Nikki Papoulides

My incredible son who happens to have Down syndrome, is fully included in school, as well as society, I find it important that part of his inclusivity is ending the R word.View Story My incredible son who happens to have Down syndrome, is fully included in school, as well as society, I find it important that part of his inclusivity is ending the R word. It's important because in this inclusive journey of ours, we promote belonging as a full member of society. The R word to us is hate speech, that promotes hate crimes. In order to change society, and how they perceive our children, we must change the language of society, in order to make it a safe place for all to live in. By eliminating the word, your actually showing that our kids deserve enough respect, dignity and be honored as human beings. I've made progress through education, I tell everyone who uses this word how damning and damaging this word is in general, how hurtful it is to my child to be exposed to such thoughtlessness, and when we're at school functions and I hear one of my sons peers using thus word, I have reported it, and have asked that the school promote awareness.

About Nikki Papoulides:i am an advocate for children.
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Caribbean

The R word supports Exclusion

By Maureen Webber

Brian & Anna-K at Brian's 22nd

I have watched as many parents keep their children away from the rest of the world, just so afraid to hear them called the R word. If we are about inclusion we cannot use the R word.View Story I have watched as many parents keep their children away from the rest of the world, just so afraid to hear them called the R word. If we are about inclusion we cannot use the R word. I know what it feels like, I have a 22 year old and every time I hear him referred to like that or laughed at I cry inside. His sister gets angry and just holds his hand closer. End the use of the R Word, include children like my son in our societies

About Maureen Webber:Parent of two children, my first Brian is a 22 year old young man with severe ID. My second is 19 together we are both Brian's primary caregivers.
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Illinois

Be Reticent...Reflect and Replace the R-word with Recognition of abilities

By Dr. J

I am 55 years old and have a sibling with an intellectual disability. His influence on my life and development could not compare to the compilation of all my professors and colleagues.View Story I am 55 years old and have a sibling with an intellectual disability. His influence on my life and development could not compare to the compilation of all my professors and colleagues. The R word was not part of our repertoire in my home and was considered offensive and worse than profanity. I have spent a lifetime discouraging others from using the word, often in response to teens and individuals who meant no harm and were not name calling. Thank you for your efforts in developing this campaign and bringing awareness to others of the hurtful and pejorative nature of it. Additionally, this campaign serves as a reminder to reinforce only recognition of individuals' strengths and abilities. I certainly know that I would not wish to be identified or called out according to my weaknesses and conditions over which I have no control. Look inward before you send something outward. Let's change the world, one word, or one less word, at a time.

About Dr. J:Humanist, Special Educator, Doctor of Psychology
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Illinois

Michael

By Cathy Pappas

My grandson Michael has special needs but is so beloved by all who know him and is helpful to everyone he meets. We have fought the R word for years.View Story My grandson Michael has special needs but is so beloved by all who know him and is helpful to everyone he meets. We have fought the R word for years.

About Cathy Pappas: I am the proud grandmother of Michael . I am wheelchair bound, but Michael just loves to push me in my wheelchair whenever I go to the doctor'S appointments. He has truly been a blessing!
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March 05, 2015 | North America: Maine

My brother

By Tehyla Wilson

My brother has a couple of learning disorders, and he's always getting bullied in school. He tells me he doesn't but everyone knows he does. He's in special ed for school and everyone treats him terribly but he's still a normal person. And it hurts me that he's getting hurt by everyone else.View Story My brother has a couple of learning disorders, and he's always getting bullied in school. He tells me he doesn't but everyone knows he does. He's in special ed for school and everyone treats him terribly but he's still a normal person. And it hurts me that he's getting hurt by everyone else.

About Tehyla Wilson :I am 14. My brother is 18. I'm the youngest of 4. And I try my best to respect everyone and stand up for anyone who needs it.
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Special Olympics Blog

Sport and Tech Team Up for Good

Now, thanks to Microsoft, athletes, coaches and families will have rapid access to useful information about their scores, times, personal bests, fitness and health. Special Olympics can use this capability to dramatically improve the lives of people in our Movement.read more »

Posted on 2014-10-27 by Janet

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