Special Olympics was established in America by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy. She started summer camps for people with learning disabilities in the grounds of her home and in July 1968 the first International Summer Games were held with 1,000 people from USA and Canada.
In 1978 Special Olympics Great Britain was formed. Today there are over 150 clubs with over 8,000 athletes and one of those clubs is Special Olympics Bournemouth & District.
In 1997 Angela Jones-Pert worked at a social services day centre for adults with learning disabilities in Bournemouth and was also an athlete with Bournemouth Athletics Club. Angela started an athletics training group within the centre after taking 4 service users to the National Summer Games being held in Portsmouth that year. In 2000 Bournemouth became a constituted branch and renamed Bournemouth & District to reflect the areas participants came from. We have a Committee and a fundraising sub group and all the members work together to ensure we give the participants the best opportunities to take part in sport. Some of our highlights:-
- 2001: hosted our first Regional Athletics Competition, now an annual event
- 2005: hosted our first Regional Table Tennis Competition, now an annual event
- 2007: As a fitting 10th anniversary, Bournemouth hosted the Special Olympics National Athletics Championships (SONAC). It was a complete success with 300 competitors from around the country and 150 volunteers over the weekend.
- 2011: hosted our first badminton Competition, now an annual event
- We have taken squads in a number of sports to National Summer Games in Cardiff 2001, Glasgow 2005, Leicester 2009, Bath 2013 and Sheffield 2017
- We have had athletes at the World Summer Games in Ireland 2003, Shanghai 2007 and Athens 2011 and also had coaches represent us at Athens, all as part of Special Olympics GB.
2014:We were chosen as one of the Bournemouth Mayors Charities
2017: we celebrated our 20th Anniversary with our sponsors, many supporters and local supportive dignitaries
There are links with UK Sports Association for People with Learning Disabilities and Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation and both organisations provide higher competition for elite performers. Two of Bournemouth’s competitors in table tennis and a swimmer have travelled extensively around the world to compete at this level