Source: Special Olympics

(October 11, 2012, Washington, DC) - Special Olympics announced the launch of two breakthrough online education resources for its coaches, aimed at improving the quality and consistency of Special Olympics' coaches training worldwide. Special Olympics has partnered with two leading sport coaching education providers: American Sport Education Program (ASEP) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to develop and deliver Special Olympics-customized online courses that meet entry-level and continuing education certification requirements for Special Olympics coaches.

As Special Olympics coaches are volunteers, the courses provide much-needed web-based alternatives to traditional in-person trainings and are a tremendous step forward in Special Olympics' ongoing commitment to providing quality coaching for all athletes.

Annette Lynch, Sr. Manager, Sports Partnerships, Special Olympics North America: "These courses represent an important first for Special Olympics - by leveraging technology, the training delivery expertise of some of the best coaching and instructional minds in sports, we are able to bring quality training to our volunteer coaches in a way we've never been able to before," Lynch added, "traditional training obstacles for volunteers such as geography, time, and money will be removed, allowing for more people to become the quality coaches our athletes deserve."

Through the American Sport Education Program-offered Coaching Special Olympics Athletes online course, coaches will develop a better understanding of how people with intellectual disabilities learn and how they participate in sports. The course offers an overview of the coaching principles and successful techniques involved in working with Special Olympics athletes, as well as practical ideas that can be used during coaching.

The National Federation of State High School Associations-offered Coaching Special Olympics Unified Sports® course provides techniques and tools for coaches working with Special Olympics' Unified Sports program, where athletes with and without intellectual disabilities (partners) train and compete together as a team. This course helps coaches understand and implement the most successful coaching strategies for this very special mix of teammates. The course features an introduction by former NFL quarterback, and Special Olympics supporter, Kurt Warner, and his wife, Brenda. NFHS is the official provider of interscholastic coach education.

"We're excited to collaborate with Special Olympics and support their efforts to provide quality coaching education," says Jim Schmutz, ASEP executive director. "24/7 online access to Coaching Special Olympics Athletes provides flexibility that will help reach more coaches with valuable information and practical tools. This athlete-centered course will help more Special Olympics coaches bring out the very best in each of their athletes. ASEP is proud to be part of the Special Olympics movement that enhances lives and transforms communities."

"With the assistance of Special Olympics, the Arizona Interscholastic Association and Special Olympics Arizona, we are pleased to be able to offer this course," said Tim Flannery, NFHS director of coach education. "Unified Sports is a program that promotes social inclusion and participation for all students, and this course will be of tremendous help to coaches who serve in these programs."

Special Olympics focuses on delivering high-quality year-round competition opportunities to children and adults with intellectual disabilities in a variety of sports in an inclusive culture that stresses athletic excellence, rewards determination, emphasizes health and celebrates personal achievement.

More than 306,000 volunteer coaches currently support Special Olympics' athletes globally. The organization has a strategic goal of increasing the number of certified coaches to 530,000 by 2015.

Special Olympics currently serves 4 million athletes in 170 countries, offers 32 Olympic-type summer and winter sports, and holds nearly 53,000 competitions annually - the equivalent of about 146 competitions a day! Therefore, the need for volunteer coaches is constant and growing.

Special Olympics is a global organization that reveals the champion in all of us through the transformative power and joy of sport, everyday around the world. Through programming in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics is changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities tackling the injustice, isolation, intolerance and inactivity they face throughout the world. Learn more at www.specialolympics.org.

The American Sport Education Program (ASEP) is the leading provider of youth, high school, and elite-level coaching education programs in the United States. Rooted in the philosophy of "Athletes first, winning second," ASEP has educated more than one million coaches, officials, sport administrators, parents, and athletes. For more than 30 years, state high school associations, individual school districts, state departments of education, and local, state, and national youth sport organizations have partnered with ASEP to lead the way in making sport a safe, successful, and enjoyable experience for all involved. For more information on ASEP sport education courses and resources, call 800-747-5698, e-mail ASEP@hkusa.com, or visit www.ASEP.com .

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.6 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information about the NFHS, visit www.nfhs.org. Access and order NFHS Coach Education courses at www.nfhslearn.com.

Creative Street Media Group, the design team behind the NFHS course, is a nationally recognized, fully integrated multimedia production company with particular emphasis on developing media for the sports, education, health care, and pharmaceutical industries as well as programs for telecast. For 28 years, CSMG has served national Fortune 500 clients with core competencies in creative and content development, graphic design, video production, website and interactive media development, and online education programs.

Emily Attwood is Managing Editor of Athletic Business.