Kicking off the 50-day countdown to the Invitational Youth Games

WHAT: 50 communities across Ontario will be celebrating Special Olympics Day on March 25 alongside local law enforcement, one of Special Olympics biggest supporters. Events will also be supported by some of the most longstanding and loyal supporters including South Simcoe Police Service and the Knights of Columbus. This day will honour the legacy of the past 50 years of Special Olympics while enthusiastically looking forward to the next 50!

Special Olympics Day will also mark the 50-day countdown to the largest celebration of the 50th anniversary: the inaugural 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games (IYG). These Games will take place in Toronto in May 2019, and will mark the first time ever that high school-aged students with intellectual disabilities will have the chance to compete on the world stage. Special Olympics Day will feature a 50th anniversary flag raising ceremony in each community and an overall fundraising goal of $50,000 in 24 hours to help get local athletes to the IYG and achieve their dream of competing on the world stage.

WHO: South Simcoe Police Service Chief Andrew Fletcher, Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer, Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin, Knights of Columbus and local athletes

WHERE: Bradford Leisure Centre – 471 West Park Avenue, Bradford West Gwillimbury

WHEN: Monday, March 25, 2019

5:00 p.m. Remarks and flag raising ceremony followed by photo opportunity

Draft an Athelete and IYG facts:

· 2,000 athletes are looking to be drafted via the Draft an Athlete website  

· Individuals and teams are looking to be drafted:

o Draft an individual: $1,000* per athlete for track & field

o Draft a team: $5,000* for basketball and bocce teams or $10,000* for floor hockey and soccer teams

o Communities taking part in Special Olympics Day have an overall goal of $50,000 for the Draft an Athlete fundraiser to help send their local qualified athletes to the Games. Each community has a featured campaign on the Draft an Athlete website. 

· Hosted by the Toronto Police Service, with the support of the Province and the City of Toronto, the #YouthGames2019 will create a worldwide sporting and communal legacy during the 50th Anniversary year of the Special Olympics movement  

· The Games will feature five sports: basketball, bocce, floor hockey, track and field and soccer

· All five will offer two types of team divisions: a traditional division, where athletes on the team have an intellectual disability, and, a unified division, where athletes with and without and intellectual disability will have the opportunity to compete on the same team. All sports will be broken down into multiple ability divisions, where athletes will have the opportunity to compete against those of similar ability levels

· In addition to sports competition, athletes can also take part in the Healthy Athletes program, a worldwide initiative that provides screening and education across seven different health disciplines, with the overall goal of increasing the health and well-being of Special Olympics athletes

For further information, please contact:

Jasmina Vranesevic

2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games