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What we do

What we do

Definition of Intellectual Disability

Intellectual disabilities can be defined as significant limitations in cognitive functioning and adaptive behaviour with onset by 18 years of age. Intellectual disabilities can be either genetic or acquired (e.g. Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, traumatic brain injury).

More than 200 million people in the world have an intellectual disability, making it the largest disability group worldwide.

"People with intellectual disabilities remain the most marginalised and discriminated against population in the world. This transcends national, cultural and socio-economic boundaries." Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman - Special Olympics

What does Special Olympics do?

Special Olympics changes lives. Special Olympics New Zealand is first and foremost a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but it provides athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport.

It’s about fun, friendships and team spirit; it’s about a feeling of belonging, and ultimately improving quality of life. Special Olympics changes lives in so many different ways.

Through sport, athletes develop both physically and emotionally, they make new friends, realise their dreams, and feel a sense of belonging.

Special Olympics enables them to achieve and win not only in sport but in life too.

  • Special Olympics New Zealand currently offers 13 summer and winter sports.
  • Special Olympics New Zealand holds more than 200 events each year. Games are held every four years.
  • ALPs allow athletes to participate in roles previously considered non-traditional.
  • Whatever your age, there's a way to be involved in Special Olympics New Zealand!
  • The Law Enforcement Torch Run is an awareness raising partnership with the New Zealand Police.
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