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Unified Sports, in which players with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete on the same team, is designed to enable athletes to learn new sports, refine athletic skills, experience inclusion, socialize with peers and form new friendships, and participate in their communities outside of traditional Special Olympics events. Evaluation data demonstrate that the program is successful in these aspects. Additionally, a recent evaluation of Unified Sports in several countries in Eastern Europe illustrates that athletes and partners also experience increased self-esteem, and partners report having a better understanding of people with intellectual disabilities after participating.

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Athlete Leadership Programs can take athletes even farther — as leaders and spokespeople respected in their communities.  As Special Olympics athletes gain in confidence and feel empowered, they often seek new challenges. They want to build on their successes, including their social skills. They can become mentors for other athletes. They can train to become coaches and officials. They can also move toward a more public role as a speaker or spokesperson, telling audiences and journalists  about the remarkable changes that Special Olympics helped bring to their lives.

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Healthy Athletes in addition to sport Special Olympics pays a great deal of attention to athletes’ general fitness and physical health condition. Though people with intellectual disabilities face the same health problems as we do, they simply have no access to most of facilities which are available to the public. Through sports we provide that opportunity for them to build their fitness and take substantial steps to improve their overall wellbeing.

During many events we offer our athletes a Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® programme which is specifically designed to help them improve their health and fitness. At Healthy Athletes events athletes receive a variety of health screenings and services in a series of clinics.

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SO Get Into It  as a sport organisation Special Olympics provides sport training and competition. As a global movement we also strive to improve our athletes’ inclusion in society. For that purpose we have specifically designed programmes.

Special Olympics Unified Sports® is a programme where athletes with intellectual disabilities and those without train and compete on the same team. This concept often leads to inclusion and firm friendships on and off the field.

SO Get Into It® is an educational initiative for schools which educates schoolchildren on intellectual disability and promotes tolerance and acceptance.

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Family Program unfortunately, not only people with intellectual disabilities face social isolation, so do their parents, carers and siblings. Our regular trainings and events provide opportunities for athletes’ family members to become involved in Special Olympics as volunteers, coaches, event organisers, etc. Special Olympics Ukraine has a network of Family Clubs throughout the country so that families are able to come together and share experiences.

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The Young Athletes Program was established by Special Olympics International to provide early developmental opportunities for pre-school children, utilizing guided motor activities. It is based on a proto-type program created for Special Olympics New Jersey by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Children ages 2 ½ to 7 with intellectual disability typically have little access to motor activity programs , including organized play, and sports skill development. The activities presented in the program are designed to advance development of young children with intellectual disability who typically lag their peers without intellectual disability.

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