- Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities.
- These athletes, who may or may not have a physical disability, represent programs from more than 170 countries from all the major continents.
- Special Olympics operates on funds raised at the international, national, state and local levels from corporations, individuals, special events and grants.
- Special Olympics is sports, competition and socialization, meaning that the benefits include not only fitness coordination and cardiovascular improvements but also confidence, discipline, self-esteem, and fun.
- From the start, Special Olympics has made training the priority and has established strict guidelines to ensure that every athlete receives quality training before competing. To improve the quality of training, Special Olympics instituted a program of coaches training curriculum and certification in 1981.
- Every athlete who competes in Special Olympics events will compete against athletes of similar ability, since athletes are placed in competition divisions according to previous times or scores, age, and, where appropriate, gender.
- Special Olympics serves the needs of athletes of all ability levels, including those with more severe mental retardation or closely related disabilities in addition to mental retardation; and high-functioning athletes who may be able to move into mainstream sports or participate in Unified Sports.®
- Special Olympics has organizations in place from the local level right up to the international level. Every state (Chapter) and National Special Olympics program has its own staff, its own board of directors, and its own network of area, provincial, and local programs.
- Special Olympics Inc. is officially recognized and endorsed by the International Olympic Committee and is the first organization other than a National Olympic Committee to be recognized.
- Special Olympics is endorsed and supported by the National Governing Bodies of the sports which it offers, and competitions are conducted according to the rules of those bodies, with appropriate adaptations. These rules are in the Official Special Olympics Summer and Winter Rules books.
Photographs tell a thousand words, and photos of our athletes and volunteers truly tell the Special Olympics story.
The best photos are good action-packed, emotion-evoking images of the following:
- Athletes competing or training in approved Special Olympics sports.
- They should be properly outfitted for the sport in which they are participating. It is preferred that the athletes’ uniform and banners in the photograph identify the event as Special Olympics.
- Athletes interacting with other athletes, parents, volunteers, coaches, and so on.
- Athletes receiving awards.
- Athletes of a variety of ages, race, and gender representing individual and team sports.
Make an effort to avoid:
- Too many photos of athletes competing in track and field.
- Too many photos of athletes on crutches or walkers or using wheelchairs. (There is a broad public perception that Special Olympics is a program only for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.)
- Athletes participating in non-Special Olympics sports such as football, bean bag toss, or Frisbee throwing.
- Athletes with clowns or athletes wearing clown makeup.
- Children who appear to be younger than 8 years old.
Photography Release Statement
No athlete may compete in any Special Olympics event without having a signed parent/guardian release statement on file with Special Olympics. The statement grants permission for Special Olympics and the media to use the athlete’s name, likeness, voice and words in television, radio, films, newspapers, magazines, and other media for the purpose of promoting and publicizing Special Olympics, educating the public about Special Olympics and raising funds for Special Olympics.