Celebrating the Power of Sport

At Special Olympics, we celebrate the transformative power and joy of sports every day. Now, the United Nations has established an International Day of Sport for Development and Peace -- so the whole world can also celebrate the power of sport. April 6 was the kickoff for this annual event, and Special Olympics athletes, partners and volunteers joined with international sports organizations around the world in celebration.  

Experience the Power of Sport

Special Olympics hosts over 70,000 competitions a year in 170 countries, engaging 4.2 million athletes with intellectual disabilities on the playing field. 

The power of sport to bring new meaning to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities is familiar to Special Olympics. For 45 years, Special Olympics has transformed lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. Through over 70,000 competitions a year in 170 countries, we engage our 4.2 million athletes on the playing field. As they train, play and compete they are discovering the strength of their abilities, and using that power to make the world a more accepting place.



Celebrating April 6th

Watch the brief video message from Special Olympics CEO Janet Froetscher in honor of the first International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. 

Special Olympics marked the special day with events in eight countries: Costa Rica, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Poland, Romania and the USA. It was a great time for all!

In the words of a Unified partner who took part in Indonesia: “Sports helps communities. When we are doing sport, we are joyful, fun. The most important thing is we can smile together," says Farhan. " In Unified Sports, we are encouraged to learn about sharing joy and respect among us. In other words, through the fun and joyful sport activities, we learn about the spirit of inclusiveness.”

A Special Olympics athlete who attended the same event had this to say: “Sports can make your body healthy, and sport can make friendships among us. Sport is fun!”

Details of each event are listed below, and also on the website for the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. 



Watch a brief video message from figure skating champion Michelle Kwan in honor of the first International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. 

COSTA RICA: The Special Olympics National Games in Costa Rica is the nation's largest sporting event. This time, in honor of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Special Olympics  celebrated the power of sport by bringing transformative opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities.  

GUATEMALA: By invitation from the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, Special Olympics joined in a walk to celebrate April 6. Along with other sports organizations, Special Olympics showcased the unique abilities of our athletes with intellectual disabilities. The goal was to highlight the fact that, regardless of abilities or disabilities, sport has the power to make positive change. 

GREECE: By invitation from the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Special Olympics joined the International School Sport Federation (ISF) and the City of Athens in sharing sporting opportunities through education and community spirit. Special Olympics showcased Project UNIFY, our primary youth activation strategy, to foster inclusive leadership among people with and without intellectual disabilities. There was also a cycling event, the “UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020,” and the SOUDA 2014 canoe-kayak championship organized by the Nautical Club of Chania.

INDONESIA: Special Olympics organized a youth summit activating young people with and without intellectual disabilities from six schools in Jakarta. The summit featured testimonials about how sport can transform lives. Young people were challenged to share “how sport can include everyone regardless of abilities or disabilities” and “how sport can break the gap between differences among people.” There were also Unified Sports activities in football (soccer), basketball, bocce and aerobics. 

JAMAICA: Special Olympics brought together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities from three different communities in Kingston and St. Andrew, plus a community in rural Jamaica. Also taking part were Leos, youth from Lions Club International -- a longtime partner of Special Olympics. As they bridged differences in communities and among people, athletes also played in a Unified Sports basketball game.

POLAND: Special Olympics organized the III Open Swimming Memorial with a number of local partners in honor of Pope John Paul II, who was considered by many as an Ambassador of Peace.

ROMANIA: Special Olympics hosted an athletics track and field competition where 150 athletes in Bucharest ran for physical health and fitness, and displayed the power of sport for all—regardless of abilities. There was also a Unified Sports football (soccer) tournament for 27 inclusive teams of people with and without intellectual disabilities, in partnership with schools in Cluj Napoca.

USA: Special Olympics kicked off open water swimming season in the United States with an open water swim meet of 150, 500, and 1500 meters in Washington, D.C. Athletes trained along the course exercising in-water starts, sighting, chasing buoys, and pack swimming. In addition to training and competition, Special Olympics marked this day as a commitment to making a difference in the lives of those with intellectual disabilities in and out of the sports arena, non-stop throughout the year.