Youth & Adaptive Sports

Young Athletes

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.

Program Goals

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.

  1. 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 program.
  2. 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.

Contact us for more information. 


The Official Central Florida Health Home for Special Olympics Florida.



Little ELITES

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 over 20,000 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 life.

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!

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Rising Stars

Rising Stars is a school or campus-based, non-competitive program designed to serve students in grades six through 12. It offers nine weeks of sport-specific training, helping athletes develop fundamental skills. 

Rising Stars provides a school-centered Special Olympics experience for students who have aged out of our Little ELITES program – which serves grades two through five. It gives those students a chance to improve their skills, preparing them to compete later in other Special Olympics programs such as Unified Sports. The goal is to keep athletes and their families connected to the Special Olympics Florida support network for life.

Special Olympics Florida provides participating schools with everything needed to run the program. The following sports are offered through Rising Stars: soccer, athletics (track and field), flag football, and basketball.

Rising Stars is part of Special Olympics Florida’s Unified Champion Schools program. Unified Champion Schools is an education and sports-focused strategy for schools pre-K through college that promotes social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities.

Here are our schools participating in this program during the 2021-2022 school year:
County School
Alachua Sidney Lanier Center
Baker Baker County High School
Brevard Astronaut High School
Brevard Eau Gallie High School
Broward Parkway Middle School
Citrus Citrus Springs Middle School
DeSoto DeSoto County School District
Duval Alden Road
Duval Englewood High School
Duval Jean Ribault Middle School
Duval Landmark Middle School
Duval Mandarin Middle School
Duval Mt. Herman
Duval Oak Hill Academy
Duval Pine Castle
Escambia Bellview Middle School
Escambia Beulah Middle School
Escambia Escambia High School
Escambia Ferry Pass Middle School
Escambia Jim C. Bailey Middle School
Escambia Pensacola High School
Escambia Pine Forest High School
Escambia Tate High School
Escambia Washington High School
Escambia Workman Middle School
Hendry Clewiston High School
Hendry Clewiston Middle School
Hendry LaBelle High School
Hendry LaBelle Middle School
Hillsborough Freedom High School
Hillsborough Gaither High School
Hillsborough Sumner High School
Hillsborough Turkey Creek Middle School
Jackson Hope School
Lake ABELS Academy
Lake East Ridge High School
Lake East Ridge Middle School
Lake Lake Minneola High School
Lake Lake Pointe Academy
Lake Mt. Dora Middle School
Lake The Key to Learning
Lee Bonita Springs High School
Lee Cypress Lake Middle School
Lee Diplomat Middle School
Lee Ida Baker High School
Lee Lehigh Acres Middle School
Lee Oak Hammock Middle School
Lee Three Oaks Middle School
Leon Deerlake Middle School
Leon Gretchen Everhart School
Leon Leon High School
Leon Raa Middle School
Manatee Braden River High School
Manatee Easterseals Academy High School
Marion Belleview Middle School
Marion Hillcrest School
Martin Hope Center for Autism
Miami Dade Crystal Academy
Miami Dade Great Heights Academy
Miami Dade Nautilus Middle School
Miami Dade Promised Land Academy
Miami Dade Robert Renick Educational Center
Miami Dade Southwest Miami Senior High School
Orange Dr. Phillips High School
Orange Horizon High School
Orange Meadow Woods Middle School
Orange The First Hope at The First Academy
Orange Union Park Middle School
Osceola Harmony High School
Osceola Harmony Middle School
Osceola Narcoossee Middle School
Osceola Parkway Middle School
Palm Beach Boca Raton Community Middle School
Palm Beach Coalition of Indpendent Living Options Inc (CILO)
Pasco Cypress Creek Middle School
Pasco Hope Ranch Learning Academy
Pasco Reconnections Education Center 
Pinellas Carwise Middle School
Pinellas LiFT Academy
Pinellas Northeast High School
Polk Crossroads Christian School
Polk Our Career Centered Academy
Putnam Mellon Learning Center
Santa Rosa Hobbs Middle School
Santa Rosa  Pace High School
Sarasota Sarasota High School
Seminole Jackson Heights Middle School
Seminole Lyman High School
Seminole Milwee Middle School
Seminole South Seminole Academy
St. Johns Alice B2 Landrum Middle School
St. Johns Bridgehaven Academy
St. Johns Life Work Transition Program
St. Johns Tocoi Creek High School
St. Johns Valley Ridge Academy
Volusia River Springs Middle School
Volusia The Arc of Volusia, Inc
Walton Emerald Coast Middle School
Walton Freeport High School
Walton Freeport Middle School
Walton Paxton School
Walton South Walton High School
Walton Walton Middle School
Walton WISE



Motor Activities Training

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.

Contact us for more information.


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