Special Olympics North Carolina

I recently attended a presentation on the Special Olympics in New Hanover County.  The woman who runs the Special Olympics in New Hanover County is Tiffany Lesley, and you honestly could not meet a more relatable person.  She presented at a Circle of Parents meeting at SmartStart on December 5, 2017.

To receive a weekly email about Special Olympics events and programs, email Tiffany at tiffany.lesley@wilmingtonnc.gov and ask to be added to her email list.

Some things that we learned about the Special Olympics:

  • You have to be 8 to participate in the actual games, but there are events throughout the year that children ages 2-7 can also participate in.
  • You have to have an intellectual disability to participate.  You might also have a physical disability, but the intellectual disability is a requirement.
  • You have to fill out an application and release form to participate.  You need a physical and your doctor has to fill out a medical form for you to participate.  For the majority of disabilities, the form is good for 3 years.  There are specific disabilities (ie: Down Syndrome) that require a few extra questions.
  • There is no cost to participate.  All programs are provided through fundraising activities.
  • Individuals can participate in various activities throughout the whole year.  There are Spring and Fall sport programs (that amount to weekly practice) as well as Summer and Winter camps.  
  • An individual can participate in a skills portion or a team portion of a sport.  For example, if an individual is interested in playing basketball, they would start at the skills level first.  If the games come around and they haven’t gotten to the team level yet, they can still participate in the games in a skills competition.  Once they master the skills portion and are ready to play on a team, they would start at 3v3 and eventually get to 5v5.
  • Individuals can cross county lines to participate in different programs.
  • There is a program called Unified Sports that combines an approximately equal number of individuals with intellectual disabilities and individuals without an intellectual disability on teams for training and competition.
  • Special Olympics North Carolina is one of the largest programs in the country, with nearly 40,000 athletes and 19 sports offered
  • Sports offered are:
    • Alpine skiing and snowboarding
    • Athletics
    • Basketball
    • Bocce
    • Bowling
    • Cheerleading
    • Cycling
    • Equestrian
    • Figure skating
    • Golf
    • Gymnastics
    • Powerlifting
    • Rollerskating
    • Soccer
    • Softball
    • Speed skating
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Volleyball