Special olympics as one of the intervention programs for benefit of independent living

Por: Hana Valkova.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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The benefit of physical activities for health and social development for persons with mental disability is one of the most discussed topics. Discussions stress either positive outcomes, or sceptic myths the persons with mental disability are out of  reality, disbelief  the persons with MD can perceive self-confidence, well-being, etc. The other problem relates to “bias” effect: is the sports programme the best for the development of personality with MD? Can the other interventions (e.g. arts/crafts) play the same role in the development of health, fitness, skills, self-confidence, wellness – like sports programmes, like Special Olympics?

These questions were included into 3 years complex project  analysing variables, mentioned above, of adolescents with mental disability.


Nearly 300 persons with mental disability went through 3 years interventional program, focused on Special Olympics sports, arts/crafts and basic education program in residential homes. Variables of health and nutrition, fitness, fine-motor skills, as well as social competence, social behaviour, self-confidence and well-ness were assessed by trained investigators. Measurement, observation and categorical scales, interviews and projective technique were used. Standardisation of techniques was included in the project.


Comparison  were contaminated with adolescent age which is not very sensitive for motor abilities development.   But, comparisons among male/female, among three different intervention programs after three years intervention presented increasing – decreasing or stabilisation of assessed variables in relation the content of program. Some of results can be discussed and can serve as a platform for future research. Only hard exact data confirm the benefit of Special Olympics sports program more for social behaviour and independent living of adolescents than other programs.

The complete “monograph” is in press.


Presented findings can be discussed in relation of age of persons with mental disability, ethiology of persons with MD, individual-team sports of Special Olympics, new aspect – unified sports in Special Olympics. The discussion can offer a lot of topics for systematic research under umbrella of Special Olympics.



[1]. Válková, H. (2002). Skutečnost nebo fikc, Socializace mentálně postižených prostřednictvím pohybových aktivit. (Reality or fiction Socialization of persons with mental disability through physical activities.) Monograph, ISBN 80-244-0117-7. Olomouc: Palacký University.

[2]. Válková, H., Nováčková, M. & Hansgut,V. (2003). Inner experience of well-ness, health and self-confodence in adolescents with mental disability after three years different intervention motor programs. In M.Dinold, G.Gerber, & T.Reinelt (Eds.), 13th International Symposium/5th European Conference on Adapted Physical Activity (pp. 399-403). Wien: Manz Verlag Schulbuch.



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