Young Athletes Toolkit

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. 

NOTE: This program is recommended to be implemented as an inclusive model (children with and without intellectual disability together) on a group basis and/or as a family based undertaking. The program, which has been implemented in many communities around the world can help prepare young children for future participation in sports, including making them ready earlier than would normally be the case.

The toolkit will continue to be expanded with the generous funding of Kim Samuel and the Samuel Family Foundation, so check back periodically for new materials.

Informational Resources

These tools provide background information about the Young Athletes program.

Core Program Activity Resources for Families, Coaches and Teachers

The Core Program Activity Guide includes user-friendly instructions and a complete list of sports activity equipment and alternatives needed to conduct the program. The design of this program provides flexibility for the parent, sibling, paraprofessional, teacher, and volunteer to conduct activities. The Young Athlete Program is designed to be used by parents in the home and can be used in a preschool/school environment, playgroup or one-on-one situation.

Young Athletes Curriculum

The Young Athletes™ Curriculum builds on the Young Athletes™ Core Program Activity Guide and training video resources, providing scripted Lesson Plans for you to use over an 8 week period. For each week there are 3 days of Lesson Plans for a total of 24 days. Lessons are designed to be offered in sequence to help children become acquainted with the activities and build skills through repetition.


For more information contact Rebecca Ralston, Senior Manager, Young Athletes at: or (202) 824-0212

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