Presented by Nike
Special Olympics Oregon
Our Mission The mission of Special Olympics 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. Website Home »
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, was a pioneer in the worldwide struggle for rights and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities. "I challenge each of you to further my mother's work and vision - reach out to a person with intellectual disabilities who every day is looking for hope, love and opportunity."
Unified Champion Schools
Special Olympics Unified Sports® is an inclusive program which combines individuals with intellectual disabilities (athletes) and individuals without intellectual disabilities (partners) on sports teams for training and competition.
Special Olympics Oregon and NIKE, Inc. teams up each year for the Special Olympics Oregon Youth Games at Nike World Headquarters. Since 2007, more than 5,000 athletes have participated in this one-day event focused on introducing the basics of popular sports to young people with intellectual disabilities. Inspired by the idea that all kids are made to play, the event helps participants to realize their potential through sport and lead healthier, happier and more successful lives.
The Youth Games are organized through a long-time partnership between Nike and Special Olympics Oregon. Each year Special Olympics athletes participate in sports instruction and competition designed for youth ages 6 to 18. Typically, 400 to 500 Nike employee volunteers, as well as elite athletes, welcome and inspire the young participants to be active. To be a volunteer at this annual event is a proud moment for the employees who land the coveted and limited roles at this event.
As part of the Youth Games, Nike hosts a Unified Champion Schools (UCS) exhibition soccer game between two local high schools. The UCS program combines sport, education, and leadership activities to equip students with the tools and training to create a culture of acceptance and inclusion. Currently there are 125 UCS schools in 29 districts throughout Oregon.
In addition to the sports events, Youth Games also provides support for family members and caregivers of the participants at the tented onsite Parents Pavilion. Parents new to Special Olympics Oregon interact with current Special Olympics athletes and their family members, network with other parents of Youth Games participants, and connect with other organizations that provide services to individuals that experience disabilities.
Youth Games presented by Nike is a one day event sponsored by Nike to introduce eligible youth to Special Olympics. Youth get moving in a sports clinic and participate in a unique Special Olympics experience so that they and their families can sample Special Olympics.
The Youth Games presented by Nike are co-produced by Nike and Special Olympics Oregon, and funded by Nike. As part of the 2020 event, more than 500 Special Olympics athletes participated in sports instruction and competition designed for youth ages 6 to 18. More than 400 Nike employee volunteers as well as professional athletes were on hand to welcome and inspire the young participants, including Paralympic triathlete Sarah Reinertsen and Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez.
“The ‘inclusion revolution’ was alive and well at Nike last year as hundreds of Special Olympics athletes had the opportunity to run, jump and play with some of the best athletes around,” said Britt Oase, CEO of Special Olympics Oregon. “Special Olympics Oregon inspires greatness and Nike gets kids moving. Put the two together and you’ve got an amazing partnership for empowering youth. Thank you to Nike for your dedication to our athletes and your ongoing commitment to Special Olympics Oregon. You’ve been a phenomenal partner over the years, and we’re so thankful for all that you do to make this event such a special experience for our athletes.”
During the 2020 event, Nike also hosted a Unified Champion Schools (UCS) exhibition soccer game with Forest Grove and Westview High Schools. The UCS program provides a unique combination of sports, education, and leadership activities to equip students with the tools and training to create sport, classroom, and school cultures of acceptance and inclusion.
“This is one of my favorite events of the year, because we know that kids are made to play, and some of the most amazing moments for these young athletes happen on the field, track, and court as they create their first memories of play and sport,” said Jorge Casimiro, Nike Chief Public Policy & Social Impact Officer. “As a longtime partner of Special Olympics Oregon, it’s been an honor to support them and help build the Nike Youth Games to be what it is today, as well as to amplify their efforts to fuel cultures of inclusion and respect in high schools across the state through Unified Champion Schools.”
“Youth Games has helped instill us with hope, loving encouragement, positivity, inspiration, and genuine joy, which as parents is comforting. And it gives our little athlete the opportunity to thrive and shine…”
– Jos Tervo (parent)