Who Can Become a Special Olympics Athlete?

Programs are open to individuals with an intellectual disability and are designed to increase fitness levels, develop individual and/or team skills and to promote sportsmanship and fair play. No person shall, on the grounds of gender, race, religion, ability level, or financial constraint be excluded from participation. Overall, inclusion is preferred to exclusion when eligibility is in question.

What about physical disabilities?

The primary focus of Special Olympics Canada is to enrich the lives of individuals with an intellectual disability through sport. Focus on intellectual disability is what differentiates Special Olympics from the Paralympics, which serves individuals with physical disabilities. The International Olympic Committee recognizes Special Olympics and Paralympics as two separate and distinct sport organizations that meet the needs of two separate communities of athletes.

How much athletic skill or experience is needed?

Athletes of all ability levels are encouraged to participate in Special Olympics programs. Through the use of equitable divisioning, competitions are structured so that athletes compete with other athletes of similar abilities.

Is there a minimum age to participate?

Each Special Olympics program has specific age guidelines, depending on the type of activity. Community based programs offer athletes the programs necessary to develop important skills required in sport and everyday life. You can start as early as two years of age, but you are never 'too old' to start!

Active Start and FUNdamentals are innovative play programs for children with intellectual disabilities that focus on physical literacy and basic motor skills development. Active Start and FUNdamentals are open to children between the ages of two and 12.

Special Olympics community programs, on the other hand, are for all athletes 10 years of age and older. Most programs have athletes of all ages. This must be kept in mind when joining team sports. Our competitive athlete programs start locally, and can grow to international competition depending on athlete wishes and development.

Are there any other restrictions?

Participants must agree to the sport rules of Special Olympics Canada and sign various waivers as part of the enrollment process.

Registering on Behalf of an Athlete – Family or Group Home

***Athletes can only register themselves if they are their own legal guardians. If you are an athlete but not your own legal guardian or under age 18, please have your legal guardian complete this registration.

  1. Open the following link in a new tab: https://portal.specialolympics.ca/Registration
  2. Fill out the appropriate information. Our Chapter is ‘SO Manitoba’
    Click on ‘Register – Validate Member’ If the athlete has previously been with Special Olympics, an email will be sent to then advising you of your validation number. Insert it in the appropriate spot and proceed with your enrollment. This keeps all your records together.
  3. Register for the portal. This will allow you to entry into the portal in the future for items such as enrollments in future years or changing addresses or medical information.
    Click on ‘Register’
  4. Click on ‘Add Athlete Enrollment’
  5. Indicate if you are the Athlete’s legal guardian and enter the Athlete’s information. You can register multiple athletes using the same email address.
    Click on ‘Next Step – Validate Member’
  6. If the Athlete has previously been enrolled on the system, they will receive a validation number that you can enter into the system to make sure their record and this enrolment are tied together. Otherwise click on “Next Step – Waivers’
  7. If you are the Athletes legal guardian, you can now complete the waivers. If you are not their Legal Guardian, please print the waivers off, have their Legal Guardian complete them and return them to the Special Olympics Office by mail at 304-145 Pacific Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2Z6 or scan and email them to som@specialolympics.mb.ca.
    Click on ‘Next Step – Program Search’
  8. Do a program search for the Athlete’s desired program. The easiest way to do this is to insert the Chapter, Region and Sport. Click ‘Search’.
  9. Once you find the program you are searching for, put a check mark into the box to the left of the club name and click on ‘Next Step – Add Program Participant Profile
  10. Fill out all the information possible in the “Profile’, ‘Addresses’ and ‘Medical Information’ by clicking on the appropriate tab at the top of the page.
    Remember, here in Manitoba, we have two medical numbers. When filling out the medical tab, please include both numbers with a space between (6 digits, space, 9 digits)
    Click on ‘Next Step – Enrollment Details’
  11. Confirm that the enrollment details are correct. Click ‘Next Step – Payment Information’
  12. Note your balance. After you are completed, you can click on ‘Family/Group Balance’ on the menu on the right side and proceed with payment.
    Click on ‘Submit Enrollment’
  13. You can now proceed to enroll another athlete or add additional clubs by clicking on ‘Add Athlete Enrollment’ and repeating the process. Remember, if the athlete belongs to a club that trains in more than one sport (ex. EK Eagles) you must enroll in both sports: EK Eagles – Snowshoe and EK Eagles – Track.