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Special Olympics MissionTo provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
The concept of Special Olympics began in the 1960s when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for people with intellectual disabilities. She realized that sports and sports training enabled people with intellectual disabilities to achieve success and that success built self-confidence. In 1968, the first International Summer Games for Special Olympics were held at Soldier Field in Chicago. There were 1,000 athletes from the United States and Canada. Today more than 1,70,000 athletes in more than 166 countries compete in Special Olympics Programs.
Special Olympics South Carolina History:
Special Olympics South Carolina was organized in 1968 when the state sent five athletes to compete in the first International Games in Chicago. In 1978, the program was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. Today, Special Olympics South Carolina provides year-round sports training and competition for more than 15,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics South Carolina offers competition in 22 sports; aquatics, athletics, alpine skiing, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, cheerleading, equestrian, figure skating, golf, gymnastics, powerlifting, roller skating, snowshoeing, soccer, softball, speed skating, table tennis, team handball, tennis and volleyball.
Special Olympics South Carolina offers competition events annually; Mid Winter Games in Charleston, State Basketball Championships in Columbia, Summer Games in Columbia, and Fall Games in Anderson. Regionally, athletes participate in the, Southeastern Skiing Championships, Southeastern Powerlifting Championships and the Southeastern Ice-Skating Championships. On the national level, athletes compete in golf, tennis and bowling annually and National Games every four years. Athletes enjoy international competition through World Games every four years.
Athletes may choose to be a part of Unified SportsÒ . This program offers paired competition with individuals without disabilities and Special Olympics athletes. Athletes may participate in the Motor Activities Training Program. This program offers challenges for individuals with severe motor impairment that would be unable to compete in Olympic-type sports. Athletes may also choose to participate in the Athlete Leadership Programs, which give them opportunities to be leaders in the planning and organization of Special Olympics South Carolina.