The mission of Special Olympics Russia (www.specialolympics.org) is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Through this, physical fitness is promoted whilst the participant can share their talents with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community at large.
The level of integration of young people with intellectual disabilities with their peers without intellectual disabilities is still low.
The task is to create an atmosphere of inclusion and conditions for young people to feel equal, to participate in sports and to spend their free time with others.
The project challenges inequality and intolerance through advocating policies that recognise the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics Unified Sports is an initiative that combines players with and without intellectual disabilities on the same teams for training and competition. This initiative has been shown to contribute significantly to breaking down barriers between people with and without intellectual disability, both on and off the playing field.
Special Olympics Russia has local sub-programmes in 62 regions of the Russian Federation, with over 110,000 athletes regularly training and competing on all levels – school, city, region, national, international.
The project works to ensure that each athlete can play a valued role on the team, socialise with peers and form friendships, and participate in activities within the community.
As of the end of 2010, Special Olympics Russia had 4,360 athletes and partners participating in the Unified Sports. The athletes came from special needs schools (70%) and psycho-neurological institutions (30%). Their partners came from regular and sport schools, colleges and sport clubs.