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Demographics Research

Families are essential to the Special Olympics movement, and share the research that shows how Special Olympics positively contributes to family members of athletes, too.


Use and customize these charts and graphs to help illustrate some key research findings.


Utilize additional research-related resources that may be helpful for your Program.


Share evidence of Special Olympics’ impact through these summaries of Special Olympics research that include ready-to-share printouts designed for Programs.

  • Best Stats for Demographics (PDF): This one-pager provides the most compelling data points about Special Olympics demographics in easy-to-use bullet points and infographics.
  • Why Research People with Intellectual Disabilities (PDF): Little is known about people with ID. Oftentimes, national monitoring systems provide basic information on different populations. Yet, a study assessing 131 monitoring systems of 12 countries around the world found that less than 25% of these systems tracked people with ID.
  • Who Are Our Athletes? (PDF): In 2003, Special Olympics served 1.3 million athletes, ten years later in 2013, that number rose to 4.4 million athletes. While there is no "typical" Special Olympics athlete, this section provides more information on regional involvement, ages and reported sports background of Special Olympics athletes.
  • Who Are Our Volunteers? (PDF): Special Olympics would not be possible without the volunteers. In 2013, over 360,000 coaches supported Special Olympics, 234,120 youth volunteers and 890,948 general volunteers worked with Special Olympics, while 16,804 clinical professionals volunteered with Healthy Athletes.
  • Key Findings (PDF): Key findings for demographic information include approximately 1% of the global population has an intellectual disability and many people with ID who get involved with Special Olympics had never participated in organized sports prior to their Special Olympics' participation.