Special Olympics


Special Olympics
Special Olympian.
an international program of fitness and athletic competition for children and adults who are mentally and often physically handicapped, founded in 1968 and featuring events and quadrennial games modeled on those of the Olympics as well as regional and national competitions.

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International sports program for people with mental retardation.

It provides year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type summer and winter sports for participants. Inaugurated in 1968 through the efforts of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the Chicago Park District, the Special Olympics was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1988. Games are held every two years, alternating between winter and summer sports. International headquarters are in Washington, D.C.

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▪ international program
      international program to provide individuals with mental retardation eight years of age or older with year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type summer and winter sports. Inaugurated in 1968, the Special Olympics was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee on February 15, 1988. International headquarters are in Washington, D.C.

      In June 1963, with support from the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (sister of U.S. President John F. Kennedy) started a summer day-camp for mentally challenged children at her home in Rockville, Maryland. Between 1963 and 1968, the Kennedy Foundation promoted the creation of dozens of similar camps in the United States and Canada. Special awards were developed for physical achievements, and by 1968 Shriver had persuaded the Chicago Park District to join with the Kennedy Foundation in sponsoring a “Special Olympics,” held at Soldier Field on July 19–20. About 1,000 athletes from 26 U.S. states and Canada participated. The games were such a success that, in December, Special Olympics, Inc. (now Special Olympics International), was founded, with chapters in the United States, Canada, and France. The first International Winter Special Olympics Games were held on February 5–11, 1977 (in Steamboat Springs, Colorado). By the early 21st century there were chapters in some 150 countries. More than one million athletes participate annually in some 20,000 meets and tournaments held worldwide, culminating in the International Special Olympics Games every two years, alternating between winter and summer sports and each lasting for nine days.

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Universalium. 2010.

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