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What is Special Olympics?

Special Olympics Ontario is a sports organization dedicated to people with an intellectual disability; but it provides athletes with far more than just the physical benefits of sport. Special Olympics changes lives. Special Olympics Ontario currently has over 18,000 registered athletes participating in 18 core sports throughout the province. These athletes are supported by their friends and families and a team of over 8,000volunteers. Over the past 40 years Special Olympics has grown from a modest program serving local athletes, to becoming the world's largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities through sport. 

The Benefits of Volunteering

As a grass-roots organization, Special Olympics relies on volunteers at all levels of the movement to ensure that every athlete is offered a quality sports training and competition experience. Our athletes look to our volunteers for inspiration, guidance and coaching. In return, our volunteers have amazing experiences and often stay with our organization for years. Volunteering for Special Olympics  can be a life-changing experience — not just for the athletes, but for you as well. Special Olympics Ontario's  programs promote participation and inclusion and transform the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. When volunteers come together with athletes with intellectual disabilities through Special Olympics, longstanding myths are dispelled, negative attitudes changed, and new opportunities to embrace and celebrate people with differences are created. 


Our Mission

"To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities"


"The relationships I've developed with the athletes and coaches over the past 10 years are some of the most special ones I have. It's very rewarding to help the athletes achieve their goals and we have a lot of fun at practices and tournaments. I look forward to the start of a new season just as much as the athletes do."

Gisele Lumsden, Floor Hockey Coach

Volunteering Roles within Special Olympics


Special Olympics Ontario volunteers can get involved at the club, community, district and/or provincial level. Volunteering at the provincial level can lead to opportunities at the national and/or international level. Some volunteers offer a few hours of their time a year at specific events, while others work several hours a week year-round. Whatever your interests, talents, background and availability, Special Olympics Ontario has volunteer opportunities for you

* Please be advised that you must be 14 years of age or older to be a regular volunteer with Special Olympics Ontario. Please inquire about opportunities for junior volunteers between the ages of 14 and 18 years old.




Volunteer as a coach!

All of our sport clubs are fully operated by volunteer coaches who run weekly practices and attend competitions and sporting events with their teams. In order to become a certified coach, you must attend and complete the necessary National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) workshops.

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Volunteer for a local sports club or in your community!

We are always looking for volunteers to assist coaches in our local sports clubs by helping out at weekly practices, providing extra administrative or team management or lending a hand at local competitions.


Volunteer on a Council!

All of our Community Councils are fully operated by volunteers. Community Councils are responsible for volunteers and athletes within their community by making financial and administrative decisions and providing support as a whole. Councils are made up of a variety of positions including Community Coordinator, Treasurer, Volunteer Registrar, Fundraising Coordinator and Secretary. For more information about Special Olympics Ontario Community Councils, click here.

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Volunteer at major competitions and sporting events!

Sporting events typically involves athletes from several clubs, gathering in one location to take part in official competition. These events are planned and run completely by staff and volunteers. Volunteers have the option of getting involved in the planning of the event or just simply helping on the day itself (i.e. score keeping). Event volunteering is suited for people who might be interested in event management/planning.

"The relationships I've developed with the athletes and coaches over the past 10 years are some of the most special ones I have. It's very rewarding to help the athletes achieve their goals and we have a lot of fun at practices and tournaments. I look forward to the start of a new season just as much as the athletes do."

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Michael Douglas, Powerlifting Coach

Sport & Competition

Volunteer with a Special Olympics program!
In addition to sports clubs, Special Olympics Ontario offers a variety of programs for athletes geared towards youth and healthy living. Such programs include

Active Start and FUNdamentals

Physical Activity & Healthy Living (PAHL)

Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs)