About the Special Olympics Movement


It all began in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play. She decided to take action.

Soon, her vision began to take shape, as she held a summer day camp for young people with intellectual disabilities in her own backyard. The goal was to learn what these children could do in sports and other activities – and not dwell on what they could not do.   See photos of the original camp here.

Throughout the 1960s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver continued her pioneering work — both as the driving force behind President John F. Kennedy’s White House panel on people with intellectual disabilities and as the director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation. Her vision and drive for justice eventually grew into the Special Olympics movement.

In 1968, Mrs. Shriver organized the first International Special Olympics Games at Soldier Field in Chicago, in the belief that the lessons these athletes learned through sports would translate into new competence and success in school, in the workplace, and in the community. Above all, Mrs. Shriver wanted the families and neighbors of people with intellectual disabilities to see what these individuals could accomplish, to take pride in their efforts, and to rejoice in their victories.

Today, Special Olympics Inc. is the world’s largest provider of fitness training, education and athletic competition — coupled with social, life, and leadership skill development opportunities — for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or a similar developmental disability. Special Olympics Louisiana, an accredited program of Special Olympics Inc., was founded in 1972 and is one of the largest volunteer-driven athletic organizations in the state.

Special Olympics is a worldwide movement where one can act locally, but make a global impact.  With over 108,000 competitions around the world, with training taking place every day, with family leaders, athlete leaders and volunteers extending our message every day, Special Olympics is no longer just an event. We are a movement, inviting the world not just to attend Games but to think and feel.

About Special Olympics Louisiana

Special Olympics Louisiana  is a state wide not-for-profit 501©3 organization that changes lives by promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities. We provide sports training and athletic competitions and we transform lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. Currently, 15,106 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Louisiana participate in over approximately 100 competitions. We are also a global social movement. With initiatives to activate youth, engage individuals with and without intellectual disabilities, build communities, and improve the health of our athletes - we're changing the game for people young and old and asking you to be a part of it all.

Special Olympics Louisiana has over 10,000 dedicated and generous supporters and volunteers in Louisiana that contribute their time and expertise to help us reach as many athletes as possible. Special Olympics Louisiana relies upon the generosity of corporate and individual donations, sponsors, civic groups, foundation grants and special events to fund programs.

Special Olympics Louisiana began in 1968 when 11 athletes from Belle Chasse State School competed in the first International Special Olympics Games in Chicago.   For more than 40 years, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.  Athletes participate in local or area programs first and then have the opportunity to advance to state, national and world games. 

A Big Thanks To Our Partners!

How to Become a Partner
  • 1000 East Morris Avenue
  • Hammond, LA 70403
  • Phone: (985) 345-6644
  • Toll Free: (800) 345-6644 (in Louisiana)
  • Fax: (985) 345-6649
  • Email: laso@laso.org