Our Mission Partners:

Fact Sheet

Hawaii Fact Sheet

  • Special Olympics Hawaii serves over 3,500 adults and children with intellectual disabilities, and special partners.
  • Special Olympics Hawaii offers training and competition in Basketball, Bocce, Bowling, Powerlifting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, and Track & Field. Demonstration sports include Golf and Tennis.
  • Approximately 50 competitions are held yearly in the various sports for Special Olympics Hawaii. The two largest are the Holiday Classic, held in early December, and the Summer Games, held Memorial Day weekend. Over 800 athletes, from Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Kauai, Lanai & the Big Island participate in each of these competitions.
  • Special Olympics Hawaii receives no funding from the Kennedy foundation. All money raised in Hawaii stays here to continue our efforts of making year-round sports training and competition available to children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Hawaii.
  • Special Olympics Hawaii depends on the efforts of over 6,000 volunteers yearly. Volunteers represent corporate sponsors, civic groups, military groups, or individuals. Volunteers serve in a variety of roles, from coaching to officiating, fundraising to Public Relations. Special Olympics Hawaii have jobs that take a 1-6 hour a week commitment to just coming out for the day.
  • The state office is located on Oahu; however there are area offices that are located on each island.

Facts about Intellectual Disabilities

Intellectual Disabilities is not a disease, nor should it be confused with mental illness. People with intellectual disabilities have both a slower rate of learning and a limited capacity to learn. They may also have difficulty managing the ordinary activities of daily living, understanding the behavior of others, and determining their own appropriate social responses (adaptive behavior). Children with Intellectual disabilities grow into adults with intellectual disabilities; they do not remain “eternal children.”

According to the most widely accepted definition by the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR), an individual is considered to have an intellectual disability based on the following criteria: significant limitations exist in two or more adaptive skill areas and the condition is present from childhood (defined as 18 years or younger).

Adaptive skills are those daily living skills needed to live, work, and play in the same community. The new definition includes ten adaptive skills: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, leisure, health and safety, self-direction, fundamental academics, community use and work.

Adaptive skills are assessed in the person’s typical environment across all aspects of an individual’s life. A person with limits in intellectual functioning who does not have limits in adaptive skill areas may not be diagnosed as having mental retardation.

How Prevalent is Intellectual Disabilities?

People with intellectual disabilities constitute one of America’s largest groups of citizens with disabilities. The following numbers are estimates based on information from experts in the field of mental retardation.

In the United States

  • 7.5 million Individuals have intellectual disabilities
  • 125,000 newborn children are born with intellectual disabilities each year

Intellectual Disabilities:

  • 50 times more prevalent than deafness
  • 15 times more prevalent than cerebral palsy
  • 36 times more prevalent than total blindness
  • 30 times more prevalent than neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Disability Facts

“Intellectual disabilities” is a widely accepted synonym for “mental retardation.” For many, the term “mental retardation” evokes the word “retard,” bringing up painful memories of rejection and ridicule. For many people with intellectual disabilities and their families, “the R word” is as offensive as “the N word.”

A 2004 report from the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities noted that “in changing people’s attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities, we need to change how they think about such people, by demonstrating all that they are capable of. Attitudes and expectations of the public, in part, determine the degree to which children, adolescents and adults with intellectual disabilities are able to learn, work and live alongside their peers without disabilities.”

People with Disabilities, Generally

  • There are more than 50 million individuals with disabilities in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans has a disability, and nearly every family includes a person with a disability.
  • Only 30% of individuals with disabilities are employed.
  • Children with disabilities are bullied at twice the rate of those without disabilities. Twice as many drop out of school. Twice as many end up living in poverty.
  • 10 million plus Americans with disabilities ages 25-64 have household incomes of $40,000 or more. That's $400 trillion of purchasing power! People with disabilities make critical purchasing decisions about education, housing, health care and social activities - including movies!

People with Intellectual Disabilities (ID)

  • An estimated 7.5 million people in the U.S. have ID, affecting one out of 10 families and representing 2.5 to 3 percent of Americans.
  • Approximately 85% of individuals with ID fall within the “mild” category, meaning they may acquire academic skills up to the 5th-6th grade level, may work and live independently or in supervised apartments, and need minimal external support.
  • Fewer than 10 percent of people with ID in the United States are employed. However over 50% of adults with ID in Special Olympics are employed.
  • Individuals with ID are 4 to 10 more times as likely to be victims of crime as those without disabilities.
  • Children with ID are bullied at four times the rate of those without disabilities.
  • Less than 40% of youth are willing to spend time with a student with intellectual disabilities outside of school, and only 10% or fewer youth actually have a friend with an intellectual disability.
  • Exposure to people with ID is a major factor in youth perception of their competence.
  • 64% of adults believe children with ID should be educated in special schools.
  • Over 80 percent of U.S. adults feel that media portrayals are an obstacle to the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

Life Benefits of Special Olympics

Special Olympics can provide opportunities to develop other skill areas in addition to sports and fitness skills. These areas include life, social, vocational, and transitioning skills. Coaches can play an important role in the development of these important skills.


  • Money management – At a Special Olympics event, give athletes the opportunity to buy a meal, T-shirt, etc. Involve them in choosing and purchasing of uniforms and equipment.
  • Personal grooming habits – Establish team guidelines. Encourage athletes to wear clean clothes, groom their hair, brush their teeth, shower after practice, wash their own uniforms, etc.
  • Transportation access – Teach athletes how to ride a bus, use the subway, and ride a bicycle. Enable athletes to get out and interact with the community.


  • Negotiation – Enable athletes to negotiate with parents and employers for changes in the family and work schedules in order to participate in a Special Olympics event.
  • Relationship building – Provide opportunities for athletes to interact with volunteers, peer coaches, and teammates, to get along with others, and to make new friends.
  • Self-esteem and worth – Provide opportunities and reinforcement for each athlete to contribute to the group as well as to improve individual skills.


  • Commitment and dedication – Ask athletes to make a commitment to themselves and the team in attending practices and competitions. Employers value reliability and dependability.
  • Focus and concentration – Focusing on a specific skill in a sport relates to performing a specific skill and learning a new task on the job.
  • Working with others – Teamwork learned through team sports relates to working with others in the job setting.
  • Stamina and fine gross motor skills – Sports participation can improve stamina and complement fine and gross motor skills required to be successful on the job.


  • Change – Sports training improves athletes’ abilities and allows them to progress to higher levels of sport participation. This often means adjusting to changes in training and competition sites, teammates, and rules. Athletes who play more than one sport also must make these same adjustments from sport to sport. Learning to adapt to change prepares the athlete for similar changes when moving from school to school and from student to adult.


  • The Infusion Chart offers examples of life, social, vocational, and transitioning skills that the athlete can also acquire while mastering the sport-specific skills described in this Guide. There are numerous possibilities for expanding and improving each athlete’s overall quality of life. Coaches should work closely with the athlete’s teachers and counselors to incorporate the athlete’s sport-specific skills into his/her overall learning experience. When an instructor wants to teach the athlete functional skills, the instructor can use examples relative to the athlete’s sport experience. For example, recognition of numbers in scoring relates to mathematics. By using the Infusion Chart, the coach can assist the athlete in learning more meaningful life, social, vocational, and transitioning skills that will assist full inclusion in the community.


  • Chooses and designs team insignia and mascot
  • Makes team banners
  • Makes felt figures used on a flannel board


  • Judges speed and recognizes the power of gravity
  • Judges the distance to the goal
  • Identifies the body parts used primarily in sports


  • Constructs a simple results board
  • Constructs an easel to display team name


  • Keeps track of times
  • Remembers starting position
  • Recognizes the difference between two times or scores


  • Dresses appropriately for sports in different weather conditions
  • Mends and hems clothing
  • Washes and cleans equipment


  • Knows the basic first aid for minor injuries (bruises, muscle aches, sunburn)
  • Uses sunscreen when outdoors
  • Trains and competes safely and remains under control
  • Dresses in layers according to weather conditions


  • Performs warm-up exercises
  • Demonstrates basic sport-specific skills
  • Works with others – shows teamwork and team spirit
  • Stays active on own, outside organized activity


  • Uses sport-specific terminology
  • Listens to instructions and follows directions; reads the scoreboard
  • Expresses himself/herself during practice
  • Reads sport-specific articles in newspapers or books


  • Identifies local sport areas
  • Participates on teams
  • Abides by the sport and team codes of conduct


Contact Us | Privacy Policy | ©2010 Special Olympics Hawaii. All Rights Reserved.