For people with intellectual disabilities Special Olympics is also often the only place where they can participate in their communities, be accepted, and make friends. Skills gained through sports help athletes off the field too, giving them discipline, helping be more independent, and giving confidence to succeed.
Of course training is different for athletes of different abilities and ages, those participating in different sports, and what programs are available in the community. To share a glimpse into what training is like, we asked one Special Olympics athlete, Jimmy Keith, to log a typical week.
Jimmy is 13 years old and participates in basketball, wrestling, soccer, baseball and track & field. Jimmy has Down syndrome and doctors warned his parents that he may not be as physically able as his twin sister. But the family was determined not to let Jimmy’s physical challenges impede his participation in sports. Parents Kathy and Doug credit Special Olympics with giving their son the confidence that helps in every area of his life and Jimmy agrees, “I like that Special Olympics gives me exercise for all the other parts of my life.”