Young Athletes 2

Our free inclusive sport and play programme for children with and without intellectual disabilities, aged 2 to 10 years old.

Young Athletes introduces basic sports skills, like running, kicking and throwing. The programme offers families, teachers, caregivers and people from the community the chance to share the joy of sports with all children.

Children learn to share, play with others, take turns and follow directions. These skills help children in family, community and school activities.

Our Classes

2-4 Years

A fun, safe and inclusive space to introduce and learn the basic skills of walking, running, balance, jumping, coordination and interacting with others.

5-7 Years

These structured sessions build on fundamental skills with activities to increase physical literacy whilst developing social and teamwork skills

8-10 Years

These sessions introduce key sports skills to achieve success in our Special Olympics clubs.

Setting your child up for for a lifetime of physical activity whilst building on core fundamental skills.

Hear about our next programme in your local area!

Or contact Young Athletes Officer Jemma Drake at or 027 255 8383

Join our Facebook group to hear our latest news and classes!

Motor Skills

Social Skills


Going beyond sports

Motor Skills – In a USA study children with intellectual disabilities who took part in Young Athletes were found to develop motor skills more than twice as fast as others who didn’t take part.

Social Skills. Children learn to share, take turns and follow directions. Helps children interact with each other and develop communication, learning and interpersonal skills.

Acceptance. In a USA study 91% of parents agreed that participation in Young Athletes made them more hopeful about their child’s future.

“He was able to develop some good relationships with the coaches/kids and also get used to being with other children and interacting a little — these are big skills he was working on too!” 

— Parent of a Young Athlete. 

Join our Young Athletes whānau!

​Coaching support on this programme is provided by Special Olympics Athlete Leaders. These Athlete Leaders have themselves participated in Special Olympics, and are now putting their coaching and delivery skills into action.

Subject to funding, we’re now ready to roll the Young Athletes programme out across New Zealand in 2022. If you have any questions about the programme or would like to help with its roll out, email