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Become an Athlete

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Athletes are the heart of Special Olympics. Our athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities from all around the world. They are finding success, joy, and friendship as part of our global community. They're also having lots of fun!

Become an Athlete

Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people. Training and competition is open to any person with an intellectual disability who is at least eight years old. There is never a fee to participate, but you do need to register.

Special Olympics North Dakota offers 15 sports: Alpine Skiing, Athletics, Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Cross-Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Flag Football, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Snow Shoeing, Soccer, Speed Skating, Swimming, and Volleyball.

Age Requirements

There is no maximum age limitation for participation in Special Olympics. The minimum age requirement for participation in competition is eight years old. However, children younger than eight are encouraged to participate in training and other Special Olympics initiatives.

Identifying Persons with Intellectual Disabilities

For the purposes of determining if an individual is eligible to participate in Special Olympics, they must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Has been identified by an agency or professional as having an intellectual disability as determined by their localities; or
  • Has a cognitive delay, as determined by standardized measures such as intelligent quotient or "IQ" testing or other measures that are generally accepted within the professional community as being a reliable measurement of the existence of a cognitive delay; or
  • Has a closely related developmental disability. A "closely related developmental disability" means having functional limitations in both general learning (such as IQ) and in adaptive skills (such as in recreation, work, independent living, self-direction or self-care).

Individuals whose disabilities are based solely on a physical, behavioral or emotional disability, or a specific learning or sensory disability, are not eligible to participate in Special Olympics as an athlete; However, these individuals may be considered for participation as a special partner in Unified Sports.

Participation Forms

Everyday, Everywhere

Through sports, our athletes are seeing themselves for their abilities, not disabilities. Their world is opened with acceptance and understanding. They become confident and empowered by their accomplishments. They are also making new friends, as part of the most inclusive community on the planet - a global community that is growing everyday.

From Athletes to Leaders

Through sports training and competitions, Special Olympics helps people with intellectual disabilities to find joy, acceptance, and success. As their lives open up, athletes gain the confidence that comes with achievement. They feel empowered and ready to take on new challenges to make use of their new abilities.

They can become mentors for other athletes, train to become coaches and officials, and they can also move toward a more public role as a speaker or spokesperson, talking with audiences and journalists about the positive changes that Special Olympics helped bring about in their lives.

At Special Olympics, our athletes are empowered to share their many gifts and talents with society. Yet, it's more than that. Our athletes also become empowered to be leaders in society - and teach us all about acceptance and understanding. 

If you have questions at any time, please contact Special Olympics North Dakota at info@specialolympicsnd.org or (701) 746-0331. If you are sending an e-mail and would like an information packet, please include a mailing address in your e-mail, and we'll be happy to get one out to you.

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