It’s a family affair for Special Olympics GB ahead of their National Summer Games to be held in the Steel City of Sheffield in August 2017.

Special Olympics GB has launched the ‘Families Programme’ for their tenth National Summer Games – which will be held for the second time in its history in Sheffield.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Councillor Talib Hussain, Special Olympics GB athletes, together with key partner Lions Club International revealed details of what the anticipated 5,000 family members of Special Olympics GB’s near 3,000 athletes can expect at next year’s National Games.

The launch was also an opportunity to invite businesses, restaurants and entertainment outlets in the area to get involved and show how they will extend a warm welcome to the very special Families of Special Olympics’ athletes heading to the steel city for a week in August 2017 from all corners of the country.

Lions Clubs International are delighted to be the partner of the Families programme again in 2017 – to coincide with their 100th anniversary. The plans are already in place to facilitate a successful families programme to include a city centre welcome and families hub where they will host a range of events and activities and signposted to the local must see attractions in Sheffield and the surrounding area.

The National Games will be the largest disability sports event in 2017 – a celebration of high quality sports competition where entry to all sports venues will be free to the public.

The family launch will commenced at the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at the Town Hall and followed by a small tour of the city on Sheffield’s famous tram network, calling at iconic venues including Meadowhall Shopping Centre.

Special Olympics GB is the largest registered charity providing year round sports training and competition opportunities for people with intellectual (learning) disabilities.

It is the showpiece event every four years for the organisation and its athletes. Almost 1.5 million people in the UK (2% of the population) have an intellectual disability.

As well as making plans and arrangements for the athletes, we are also gearing up to welcome their families and friends who will be travelling from all around Great Britain. This could be anything up to 6,000 additional people and we want them to enjoy the competition but also enjoy the wonderful and historic city of Sheffield.

With this in mind, we want to give our families a flavour of the opportunities and excitement they can expect at this launch. It will also be a chance to inform the Sheffield community, attractions and business sector that this large group of people are heading their way very soon.

Supporting a family member who is competing at a national level sports event – after months of dedicated training – is a good reason for excitement and celebration by anyone’s standards.

This is what our family members will experience when they travel to Sheffield for the Special Olympics National Summer Games.

For many families, this will be their annual holiday and they will make the most of every minute of their time in Sheffield.

At the end of long and exciting days cheering on their own athlete, the families will spend the evenings socialising together and recalling the events of the day.

It is not unusual for family members to express how ‘finding’ Special Olympics has changed their lives. It’s for that reason that the organisation is committed to giving them the most memorable of Games in Sheffield and an experience that they will never forget.

These Games are a big family affair and this launch is an opportunity to let the local community and businesses know. Our family members will be staying in and around Sheffield itself, eating in their restaurants, staying in their hotels and visiting their attractions.

We are delighted to be working with Lions Clubs International again who are the Family programme partner for the second consecutive Games and we know they will build on the wonderful programme they delivered in Bath in 2013 to ensure that the families have a memorable Games experience in Sheffield.

Huge thanks to them all for their generous and enthusiastic ongoing support for Special Olympics GB.

If you would like to find out more about the families programme, register your interest as a family or to support the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games in Sheffield, please visit our website www.sheffield2017.org.uk