SOAZ empowers children and adults with intellectual disabilities through sports, health, leadership and advocacy programs.
Many people are surprised to learn that Special Olympics Arizona is much more than a once-a-year sports competition. The purpose of Special Olympics Arizona (SOAZ) is to empower children and adults with intellectual disabilities to live healthy, fulfilling and meaningful lives to the fullest extent of their ability. By equipping this population with information, resources, training and opportunity, SOAZ assists individuals with reaching their full potential, participating in their communities, contributing
to society and managing their own health, welfare and happiness.
SOAZ operates under the assumption that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of participation in all aspects of life by focusing on abilities and treating disabilities as differences, rather than limitations.
13,229 youth and adults in Arizona enjoy sports, free health screening and education, free legal advocacy help and leadership training through SOAZ. Participants are never charged for Special Olympics programs, which include:
TRADITIONAL SPORTS TRAINING AND COMPETITION
Special Olympics Arizona offers training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities who are 8 years or older in 24 sports. Currently, there are more than 180 Delegations across Arizona serving 13,229 athletes.
Unified Sports is an inclusive program which combines individuals with and without intellectual disabilities on sports teams for training and competition. Athletes and partners compete alongside one another, each in a meaningful and integral role on the Unified Sports team.
The goal of Project UNIFY is to promote school communities where all young people are agents of change; fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. Project UNIFY empowers students to speak and act through sports, awareness events and school-wide campaigns.
Healthy Athletes improves the health and fitness of Special Olympics athletes through free medical screenings in seven disciplines: general fitness, podiatry, hearing, vision, dental hygiene, healthy lifestyle choices, and sports physicals.
Healthy Lifestyle Education and Practice provides nutrition, fitness, injury prevention, general health information and practical applications to high school students with and without disabilities.
YOUNG ATHLETES PROGRAM™
The Young Athletes Program is an innovative sports/play program designed to develop the building blocks of physical skills which result in notable improvements in a child’s motor, cognitive, social, emotional, adaptive and communication skill development.
ATHLETE LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
As leaders and message-bearers of the movement, Athlete Leaders communicate the powerful declarations of hope, acceptance, dignity and courage of Special Olympics athletes around the world. Athletes also serve in positions on committees and on the Board of Directors.
ANNUAL REGIONAL AND STATEWIDE COMPETITIONS
Special Olympics Arizona offers five statewide and over 170 regional competitions annually. Special features include gala Opening Ceremonies, a Victory Dance and Olympic Village to provide for socializing between events. Special Olympics Arizona provides all meals, lodging, venues and equipment necessary to host these events.
The SOAR Program was created to facilitate advocacy-related services to individuals with intellectual disabilities. SOAZ partners Special Olympics athletes with local lawyers, other professionals and available resources to fulfill legal, advocacy, job and life skills training needs.