Special Olympics Iowa (SOIA) has received a $15,000 grant from Variety- the Children’s Charity to fund Young Athletes Play Days and Unified Sports®.logo-variety

Young Athletes Play Days are designed to provide play activities and socialization opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities between the ages of two and seven. Play Days were created to serve children too young to participate in formal Special Olympics events (athletes can begin competing at age eight).

“Variety- the Children’s Charity and Special Olympics Iowa have been great partners for many years. Our desire to serve is identical; our rewards are the smiles that we receive and the passion that is shown on the faces of those who we are privileged to walk beside,” says SOIA President and CEO Gary Harms. “Our Young Athlete Play Days are the first introduction of that which Special Olympics Iowa has to share with our wonderful participants and young people, as well as their families and fans.”

Unified Sports® creates an opportunity for people without intellectual disabilities to join in the sports experience by playing on a team with athletes with intellectual disabilities. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

“Unified Sports are key to the future of our movement; they help us to drive education, competition, friendship and are a path to social norming for our friends with ‘different abilities,’” says Harms. “The wonderful support that we receive from Variety helps us to continue to grow the number of individuals we serve, the opportunities we offer and the mission we live.”

Variety- the Children’s Charity is dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and special needs children. Funding is provided to programs and initiatives that directly impact the well-being of children throughout Iowa. For more information on how you can be a part of Variety’s work, please visit varietyiowa.com.