The mission of Special Olympics New Hampshire (SONH) is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.
Five Decades of Empowerment
The Special Olympics New Hampshire mission remains as vital today as it did when the movement was founded fifty years ago. Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people.
Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths, abilities, skills and find success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment — on the playing field and in life. They inspire their communities to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.
There are as many as 40,000 people with intellectual disabilities in New Hampshire and our goal is to reach out to every one of them, as well and their families. We do this through a wide range of trainings, competitions, health screenings and fundraising events. We also create opportunities for families, community members, local leaders, businesses, law enforcement, celebrities, dignitaries and others to band together to change attitudes and support athletes.
The Power to Transform Lives
The transformative power of sports to instill confidence, improve health and inspire a sense of competition is at the core of what Special Olympics does. From the detailed coaching guides to the sharp-eyed officials at our games, the focus is on real sports, real competition and real achievements.
In Special Olympics, the power and joy of sports shifts focus to what our athletes CAN do, not what they can’t. Attention to disabilities fades away. Instead, we see our athletes’ talents and abilities and applaud them for it. And they are doing a lot — from basketball to powerlifting to sprint triathlon. With our 17 Olympic-style sports, we offer adults and children with intellectual disabilities many ways to be involved in their communities and to show who they really are.
SONH & The Pandemic
Due to the worldwide pandemic, we have not been able to offer in-person programming since March. Organizationally, we have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue due to canceled fundraising events. More importantly, our athletes have missed out on hundreds of opportunities to train and compete. Our athletes, 53% of whom are considered high risk, have not able to keep up with their traditional training routines that help to keep them physically fit and mentally strong. Our athletes, many of whom do not have regular access to email and the internet, are feeling more lonely and isolated than ever as they social distance often without the luxury of video chats with friends.
But we haven’t let that stop us!
When the state shut down, we took to the phones, making more than 7,000 calls to our athletes to remind them that they were not alone. Next, we mailed an at-home training kit to every Special Olympics athlete in New Hampshire. Today we are wrapping up the Granite State Restart, an at-home challenge where athletes complete physical, health, social and emotional wellbeing tasks to earn points and prizes.
We are looking forward to the day when we can safely conduct in-person training and competitions, but until then we are excited to forge ahead! We will continue to find innovative ways to connect with our athletes, doing our best to provide rays of hope during these uncertain times.