Athletes are the heart of Special Olympics. Our athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities from all around the world, with more than 9,000 in Wisconsin. They are finding success, joy and friendship as part of our global community. They're also having lots of fun!

Who Are Our Athletes?

Everybody is different. Special Olympics is for people who are different because they learn new skills slowly. They are different in other ways as well. They have an intellectual disability, or ID. Intellectual disabilities happen in all cultures, races and countries. The goal of Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) is to reach out to the more than 145,000 people in the state with ID. Our 9,000+ SOWI athletes—ages 8 years old and up—come from all regions of the state. We also have a Young Athletes program for children ages 2 to 10. At any age and in every county, our athletes are learning new skills, making new friends and gaining in fitness and confidence.

Every Day, Everywhere

Special Olympics Wisconsin trainings and competitions happen 365 days a year. We offer 19 Olympic-style winter, spring, summer and fall sports. All sports are coached by certified volunteer coaches. Many athletes start in one sport, then go on to try others.

There is no upper age limit, and in fact, the average age of an athlete is 33. So whatever your age or skill level, Special Olympics has something for you.



Young Athletes | An Inclusive Sport Play Program
Young Athletes provides opportunities for kids with and without intellectual disabilities to be active, have fun and learn foundational sport skills.




Elementary Schools | Middle Schools | High Schools
With sports as the foundation, Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools bring together youth with and without intellectual disabilities to build inclusive communities, reduce bullying and promote healthy activities.




College & Universities | Campuses of Inclusion
Colleges and universities connect students with Special Olympics programs as coaches, Unified Sports Partners, Unified fitness trainers, event volunteers, fundraisers, and more.


Community Programs | Unified and Traditional Sports
Community programs offer year-round training and competition opportunities in traditional and Unified sports for athletes and partners ages eight through adulthood. Most programs host a variety of sports, while a few programs specialize in just one.

Through Special Olympics, our athletes are seeing themselves for their abilities, not disabilities. Their world is opened with acceptance and understanding. They become confident and empowered by their accomplishments. They are also making new friends, as part of the most inclusive community on the planet—a global community that is growing every day.

Become a Special Olympics Athlete

Start the process of becoming a Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete today!

Children ages 2 to 10
Contact Young Athletes Program Manager for more information about this inclusive sport play program for kids both with and without intellectual disabilities. (608) 442-5682,

Children ages 8+ and Adults 

Your future Special Olympics athlete will join one of our accredited local programs. Local programs are where all of the action happens: practices and competitions for any of our 19 Olympic-style sports, free health and wellness programming, team parties and so much more! Local programs are offered several ways: by your child’s school, your city’s Parks and Recreation Department or a community group. Check our listing of local programs to find one near you.

If you have questions or would like to talk to a local program manager before making a decision we are here to help! Contact the Athletic Director in your area to get started. Our Athletic Directors will also assist you with necessary paperwork like the required athlete medical.

Ready to join? Start with our Medical Info & Forms page.

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