The Mission Statement, Goal and Founding Principles of Special Olympics are outlined in this Article. Emanating from the mission, the ultimate goal of Special Olympics is to help persons with intellectual disabilities participate as productive and respected members of society at large, by offering them a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and talents through sports training and competition, and by increasing the public's awareness of their capabilities and needs. The Founding Principles support this goal by emphasizing that people with intellectual disabilities can enjoy, learn and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, underpinned by consistent training and by competition opportunities for all levels of ability. According to the Principles, Special Olympics must transcend all boundaries of race, gender, religion, national origin, geography, and political philosophy. They also state that every person with an intellectual disability should have the opportunity to participate and be challenged to achieve their full potential, with the focus at community level to reach the greatest number of athletes, strengthen their families and create an environment of equality, respect and acceptance.
Section 1.01: Mission Statement
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Section 1.02: Goal of Special Olympics
The ultimate goal of Special Olympics is to help persons with intellectual disabilities participate as productive and respected members of society at large, by offering them a fair opportunity to develop and demonstrate their skills and talents through sports training and competition, and by increasing the public's awareness of their capabilities and needs.
Section 1.03: Founding Principles of Special Olympics
The principles on which Special Olympics was founded, and which must continue to guide the operation and expansion of the global Special Olympics Movement, include the following (collectively, the "Founding Principles"):
People with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, enjoy, learn and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, adapted as necessary to meet the needs of those with special mental and physical limitations.
Consistent training under the guidance of qualified coaches, with emphasis on physical conditioning, is essential to the development of sports skills, and competition among those of equal abilities is the most appropriate means of testing these skills, measuring progress and providing incentives for personal growth.
Through sports training and competition: people with intellectual disabilities benefit physically, mentally and socially and spiritually; families are strengthened; and the community at large, both through participation and observation, is united with people with intellectual disabilities in an environment of equality, respect and acceptance.
Every person with an intellectual disability who meets the eligibility requirements set out in these General Rules (see Article 2, Section 2.01) should have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the sports training and athletic competition programs offered by Special Olympics.
Special Olympics must transcend all boundaries of race, gender, religion, national origin, geography, and political philosophy, and offer sports training and competition opportunities to all eligible persons with intellectual disabilities in accordance with uniform worldwide standards.
Special Olympics celebrates and strives to promote the spirit of sportsmanship and a love of participation in sports for its own sake. To that end, Special Olympics aims to provide every athlete with an opportunity to participate in training and competition events which challenge that athlete to his or her fullest potential, regardless of the athlete's level of ability. Special Olympics therefore requires that Special Olympics Games and Tournaments offer sports and events which are appropriate for athletes of all levels of ability, and in the case of team sports, provide every athlete with an opportunity to play in every game.
Special Olympics encourages sports training and competition opportunities at the local, area and community level (including schools) as a means of reaching the greatest number of eligible athletes.
Section 1.04: Structure of Special Olympics
The Special Olympics Movement consists of the following organizations and individuals:
1.04 (a): SOI
SOI is the creator and the international governing body of the Special Olympics Movement founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, SOI’s own founder. SOI is the international governing body of the Special Olympics Movement. In discharging its responsibilities as the world governing body of Special Olympics, SOI establishes and enforces all official policies and requirements of Special Olympics, oversees the conduct and expansion of Special Olympics Accredited Programs throughout the world, and provides training, technical assistance and other support to Accredited Programs and GOCs. SOI is a not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia, USA, with its principal office in Washington, D.C., USA.
1.04 (b): Accredited Programs
SOI licenses and accredits qualified Accredited Programs throughout the world to operate Special Olympics training and competition programs within their respective geographic territories. To the extent permitted by these General Rules, Accredited Programs may, in turn, directly operate, or license and accredit other qualified organizations to operate, local Sub-Programs (such as city-based or province-based programs) within their respective geographic territories.
(1) Powers and Responsibilities of Accredited Programs.
Except as otherwise provided in these General Rules, each Accredited Program has the full authority and responsibility for organizing and conducting Special Olympics training and competition programs within its geographic boundaries, subject to the requirements of these General Rules, the Accredited Program's Accreditation License, the Accreditation Standards and the other Uniform Standards.
(2) Matters Within an Accredited Program's Decision-Making Authority
Subject to these General Rules and other Uniform Standards, and subject to the Accredited Program remaining accredited by SOI, each Accredited Program has the authority to determine: the scope of its operations; the frequency and scope of the Games to be conducted by the Accredited Program or by its Sub-Programs (if any) within its jurisdiction; the selection of competitors who will represent that Accredited Program in all World Games and, where applicable, in Regional Games or Regional U.S. Games; the personnel policies which will Special Olympics Official General Rules 17 Special Olympics govern that Accredited Program's staff and volunteers; the requirements for creating and overseeing Sub-Programs within its jurisdiction; the methods and projects which will be used by that Accredited Program and/or by its Sub-Programs (if any) to raise funds within its jurisdiction; and generally, any other matters concerning the organization, conduct or financing of Special Olympics programs within its geographic jurisdiction (excluding World Games, Regional Games or Regional U.S. Games), so long as there is no conflict in any instance, either procedurally or substantively, between the decisions of the Accredited Program and the requirements of the Accreditation Standards, the Program's Accreditation License, these General Rules, or the other Uniform Standards.
(3) Regional Divisions for Accredited Programs
3.1 Purpose of Regions; Creation and Composition
SOI periodically establishes Regions, for the purpose of facilitating the efficient governance and expansion of the Special Olympics Movement, facilitating the exchange of information and ideas between SOI and its Accredited Programs, and facilitating the exchange of information and ideas between individual Accredited Programs located within one or more Regions.
3.2 Regional Divisions for Accredited Programs
SOI determines whether to recognize a specific Region, and how each recognized Region should be defined, and reserves the right to re-define Regions (or their respective SubRegions) if necessary in SOI's judgment to meet the needs of Special Olympics.
3.3 Sub-Regional Divisions
SOI may, at its option, recognize sub-Regions for discrete parts of the world located within a recognized international Region ("Sub-Regions"). SOI shall keep all Accredited Programs regularly informed of the definition and composition of all Sub-Regions recognized by SOI.
1.04 (c): Games Organizing Committee(s) (“GOC(s)”)
GOCs are separate non-profit organizations or associations that are licensed from time to time by SOI to organize, finance and conduct World Games or Regional Games. The powers and duties of each GOC is determined solely by SOI and set forth in a written contract between SOI and each sanctioned GOC. SOI's contracts with a GOC specify requirements for the World Games or Regional Games to be conducted by that GOC in addition to those imposed by these General Rules and the other Uniform Standards.
1.04 (d): Other Organizations Established or Recognized by SOI
From time to time, SOI recognizes or establishes, or authorizes its Accredited Programs to establish, various councils or committees comprising Accredited Program representatives or participants, or other persons affiliated with Special Olympics for the purpose of assisting SOI in policy development or enforcement, program management and expansion, and the exchange of information between and among SOI and Accredited Programs throughout the world, including (but not necessarily limited to) the Leadership Councils and other advisory committees defined in the General Rules (collectively “Advisory Committees”). Advisory Committees perform important advisory roles within the Special Olympics Movement. Each Advisory Committee performs the functions given to it in these General Rules, or in the case of any Advisory Committee subsequently created by SOI, the functions specified in the policy document issued by SOI to create the Advisory Committee and to establish its responsibilities.