Partners of the Movement

IKEA Foundation


Special Olympics is a proud partner of IKEA Foundation’s Let’s Play for Change Good Cause campaign.

Let’s Play for Change Campaign

A young child navigates an obstacle course at a Young Athletes demonstration in Thailand.

Thanks to the Let’s Play for Change campaign, the IKEA Foundation is supporting Special Olympics to directly support the growth of Young Athletes programs in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Thailand.

Between 2016 and 2019, we aim to welcome 350,000 children with and without intellectual disabilities into Young Athletes, thereby creating a minimum of 5,000 socially inclusive communities that foster the development and growth of children with intellectual disabilities. By the end of the campaign we hope to impact over 875,000 people, including caregivers, parents and teachers.

With the support of IKEA Foundation, we are working together to share the joy of sports and play with children and families who need it most.

Special Olympics Young Athletes is a fun way for children with intellectual disabilities to experience play. Here a boy in India practices his throwing skills.

Thanks to our partners at the IKEA Foundation, we are able to grow Young Athletes and reach more children, impact more families and further break down the perceptions that exist for children with intellectual disabilities.
Mary Davis, Special Olympics CEO

What is Special Olympics Young Athletes?

Special Olympics Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing. Young Athletes offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children.

Children of all abilities take part, and they all benefit.

Campaign Goals (2016-2019)

  • 350,000 children in Young Athletes activities
  • 875,000 total beneficiaries impacted by project
  • 5,000 socially inclusive communities

Why Play?

Play is at the heart of every happy childhood and is fundamental to child’s wellbeing. It gives children the chance to find out about the world, learn how to get along with people, stay healthy and cope with stress.

Many children around the world lack safe spaces to play, while others face discrimination because they are living with a disability. Let’s Play for Change, supported by the IKEA Foundation, aims to help children around the world play and develop even in the most difficult circumstances.

Learn More About the IKEA Foundation 2017 Let'sPlay Campaign

About IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation) is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. We aim to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world's poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programs that can create substantial, lasting change. The IKEA Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child's life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income, while helping these communities fight and cope with climate change.

Learn more about the IKEA Foundation on their website or on Facebook.

How Children Benefit from Young Athletes
Motor Skills
Children with ID who took part in a an eight-week Young Athletes curriculum saw seven month's development in motor skills. This is compared to a three-month gain in motor skills for children who did not participate.
Social, Emotional and Learning Skills
Parents and teachers of children who took part in the Young Athletes curriculum said the children learned skills that they will use in pre-primary school. The children were more enthusiastic and confident. They also played better with other children.
Family members say that Young Athletes raised their hopes for their child's future.
Inclusive play has a benefit for children without ID as well. It helps them to better understand and accept others.