This is an innovative sports play program for children ages 2-7 with
intellectual disabilities and their peers, designed to introduce them
into the world of sports. The benefits to this program have been proven
worldwide. First and foremost, these activities will help the children
improve physically, cognitively and socially. This program will also
raise awareness of the Special Olympics program and serve as an
introduction to the resources and support available within Special
Olympics Florida families, agencies and schools.
This program is designed to address two specific levels of play.
Level 1 includes physical activities focused on developing fundamental
motor tracking and eye-hand coordination. Level 2 concentrates on the
application of these physical activities through a sports skills
activity program and developing skills consistent with Special Olympics
sports play. The activities will consist of fundamental sports skills,
such as walking, running, balance, jumping, trapping, catching,
throwing, striking, and kicking.
Types of Programs
There are two ways the program may be offered.
The Young Athletes program can be offered at home by a family member
or friend. These volunteers become play pals on a one-on-one basis with
their family member. This would be called a home-based Young Athletes
The second option is offer a site program. A site program may be a
school or agency such as a Parks & Recreation Department, Hospital,
Daycare, ARC, UCP, YMCA, and Church, school or Camp. The agency agrees
to offer the program under the name of Special Olympics Florida Young
Athletes Program. A site program may also be under the direction of a
volunteer approved by Special Olympics Florida who finds a donated site
to conduct activities. Such sites might include but not limited to a
church, community center, YMCA, playground, ARC, UCP, or Housing
Development Community Room.
Both types of groups will follow all guidelines for the Special
Olympics Young Athletes program. Group site must have at least 6
registered Young Athletes to begin a program as they will receive an
equipment kit free of charge.
Little ELITES (Elementary Level Introduction To Entry-level Sports)
is a sports program that bridges the gap between Special Olympics Young
Athletes (ages 2-7) and competitive Special Olympics sports (ages 8+)
concepts and models. The program is ideal for children in 2nd through
5th grade who have an intellectual disability (ID) or developmental
disability (DD) diagnosis.
Why Little ELITES Is Needed
Special Olympics Florida offers an inclusionary sports play program
for children who are between the ages of 2-7 called Young Athletes. We
currently have 12,000 Young Athletes participants involved and the
program is continuing to grow. As children age out of Young Athletes,
there can be a lack of Special Olympics Florida sports opportunities for
children who are in grades 2-5. This is where Little ELITES comes in!
Through Little ELITES, children who age out of Young Athletes can
continue to work on their skills in specific sport(s) through structured
school-based means of participation and eventually compete within the
community. Ultimately, the goal is to keep young children and their
families engaged in the Special Olympics Florida support network for
What is offered through Little ELITES
Schools can sign up for the following sports: Soccer, Athletics
(Track and Field), Flag Football, and Basketball. Special Olympics
Florida provides everything that is needed to run the program. This
includes a training on the materials, full kits for each sport, a sports
activity guide, and t-shirts and ribbons for a school-hosted Special
Olympics Florida Little ELITES sports day!
The Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) is designed for those
athletes with severe disabilities whose physical and/or behavioral
limitations preclude participation in traditional Special Olympics team
and individual sports competitions. The emphasis in MATP is on training
and participation rather than competition. MATP seeks to improve the
athlete’s basic motor skills in the following areas: dexterity,
striking, kicking, manual wheelchair, electric wheelchair and aquatics.
Athletes participating in the Motor Activity Training Program must be
registered as Special Olympics Florida athletes (medical & release
forms) or as a School Roster Program. Training Programs are established based on the individual needs of
the athlete. The program utilizes goals, short-term objectives,
task-analyzed activities, assessments and teaching/coaching suggestions
for individualizing motor activity instruction so that people with
severe disabilities can participate in appropriate activities geared to
their ability levels. Training and participation are done onsite.
In school settings, MATP can help physical education teachers
integrate students with severe disabilities into regular physical
education classes in activities including warm-ups, conditioning,
gymnastics and track and field through the use of partial participation
and game modifications. After completion of a training program, a “training day” can be held
which provides each athlete a chance to demonstrate his or her personal
best in an activity and be recognized for his or her accomplishments.
MATP challenge ribbons and medals are awarded for personal bests during
training day activities.