Young Athletes™ is an innovative sports play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities, designed to introduce them to the world of sports prior to Special Olympics eligibility at age 8.


Young Athletes™ is designed for children, ages 2 to 7, to focus on fundamental skills that will help a child improve physically, cognitively, and socially. Activities include games, songs, and fun with siblings and other children. Through practicing sports skills in a one-on-one environment, our Young Athletes gain motor skills like balance, flexibility, strength, and coordination.  In fact, in a recent study, children with developmental delays who participated in a structured 8-week Young Athletes™ program showed significantly more motor development than those who did not participate. Not only that, but their teachers and parents also reported improved confidence, language skills, and social skills. Another benefit was families played more together at home and in the community!

Parents, siblings and other children without intellectual disabilities are welcome to join in the fun and participate in a Unified environment helping to encourage an inclusive community! 

There are a few ways you can participate in Young Athletes:

1)  With us during our Spring or Fall Sessions!

2)  Start your own at home, in your community, or at your school!

The Young Athletes Program is turnkey and user-friendly. If you’re interested in launching your own local Young Athletes Program, please contact us. We can work with you to secure resources, materials, and equipment. Young Athletes can be done in schools, in our home or at a local park or community center!

2019 Spring Sessions

coming soon
Future Athletes/Participants

ALL athletes (new and returning) need to submit the YA Registration Form Part A and the Religious Objection Form (if applicable). Each athlete is required to submit this once per calendar year. For a paper application, please contact us at or call 215-671-5063.

Programming for 5-10-year-old children: In addition to traditional Young Athletes, which is designed for children ages2-7-year-old, we are also offering program options for children ages 5 – 10 at available locations. These are sports introductory sessions meant for more developed Young Athletes before they are able to enter into our community program, or for those 8-10, in addition to joining our community program.


Please do not commit to a program if you are unable to make at least 6 of the 8 sessions. If that is the case, let us know of your interest and providing there are spaces open in the class we will permit your child to join anyway. If a family joins and their child does not attend 6 or more sessions and/or does not give ample notice to the lead volunteers, this will be cause for the removal of your child from the current program. They will be welcome to join again in the future.

There are two forms that parents/guardians will need to fill out for their child before they can participate – the YA Registration Form Part A and the Religious Objection Form (if applicable). These will be emailed out to confirmed participants. Spots are limited and will be given on a first come first serve basis.


Please do not commit to a program if you are unable to make at least 6 of the 8 sessions. If that is the case, please request to be placed on our backup list. You will be contacted in the event that there are not enough volunteers on any given day. Additionally, please let us know if you’re interested in being a lead volunteer. 

If you are interested in volunteering for any of our programs, please contact us to begin the volunteer registration and background check process. All volunteers will be required to create a volunteer profile with Special Olympics PA that will include a full background check. For any volunteer who has lived outside of PA within the last 10 years, you will also be required to conduct an FBI Fingerprinting. Once you are confirmed for a location we will provide you with step by step instructions on how to complete the background checks.

If you wish to learn more about the Young Athletes Program from Special Olympics, click here.

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The space for the Philadelphia Young Athletes Program in partnership with Special Olympics Philadelphia is generously donated by the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA! Learn more about their Philadelphia locations and how you can become a member! A big special thank you to the Northeast Philadelphia YMCA and Christian Street YMCA.