Special Olympics New York Young Athletes Program Receives Support from Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation

$10,000 Grant Expands Access to Inclusive Play Opportunities for Children in Central NY

Syracuse, NY – Special Olympics New York today announced a $10,000 grant from the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation to support the expansion of its Young Athletes Program in Central New York. The program is currently being offered virtually and will resume in-person in accordance with the organization’s Return to Play.

The Special Olympics Young Athletes program provides inclusive play opportunities for children of all abilities, ages 2-7. It engages children with and without intellectual disabilities in activities important to mental and physical development, such as running, balance and catching, while also teaching inclusion at a young age and preparing athletes for Special Olympics training and competition when they become eligible at age 8.

“We are honored to be able to support the Special Olympics New York Young Athletes Program, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Juli Boeheim. “Now more than ever, we feel it is important to support programs that encourage children, while bringing comfort and a sense of normalcy to them during these stressful times.”

“The Special Olympics Young Athletes program teaches basic sport and motor skills critical to the development of all children and – importantly – brings those with and without intellectual differences together socially, setting the stage for a lifetime of including children of all abilities in opportunities to play and become friends,” said Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “We are fortunate and so grateful for the support of the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation as we continue grow a more Unified New York for the next generation.”

The Special Olympics Young Athletes program is comprised of eight units: Foundational Skills, Walking and Running, Balance and Jumping, Trapping and Catching, Throwing, Striking, Kicking and Advanced Sports Skills.

Special Olympics New York has worked with its coaches throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to offer Young Athletes programming virtually. Foundational Skills videos created by coaches are posted online and free for all New York families to access at www.specialolympicsny.org/young-athletes/.

The Young Athletes program is offered by Special Olympics chapters in states and countries around the world. In New York, programs are offered in one of three settings, always with the goal of bringing children with and without intellectual disabilities together. In schools, teachers and advisers use the program to support children in developing motor and communication skills. In community settings such as the YMCA, a certified coach brings children and families together for inclusive play. In homes, families encourage children and friends to use the program for shared activities and ideas.

Families of children with and without intellectual disabilities who wish to be notified of opportunities to get involved in the program locally can make an inquiry online. Companies seeking to support its expansion should contact Vice President for Development Renee Snyder at rsnyder@nyso.org for more information.


About Special Olympics New York

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 67,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with more than 220 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.