Strong Minds is an interactive learning activity focused on developing adaptive coping skills. Competition provides a natural opportunity to develop active strategies for maintaining emotional wellness under stress, such as: thinking positive thoughts, releasing stress and connecting with others.


Pilot data from Strong Minds events found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes in the U.S. face significant stresses on a daily basis, but have access to only a few adaptive coping strategies (Hartley & MacLean, 2010)

• 12% of athletes report having no coping strategies

• 62% mostly use avoidant strategies (e.g., not think the stressor), which is associated with increased depression

• 26% mostly use active strategies (e.g. doing something to help themselves to feel better), which is associated with increased well-being.

Available Screenings

Strong Minds events are offered at Summer Games. Education is provided to help athletes try a few different active coping strategies as they move through the stations. Before exiting, athletes identify the strategies they like best and learn visual reminders to use these tools in competition and in daily life. Medical referrals are given when appropriate.

Volunteer Opportunities

Interested in volunteering for Strong Minds? SONJ is looking for licensed mental health professionals, registered nurses, yoga instructors and students in public health, social work, and psychology to help athletes improve and maintain a strong mind.

Criteria for Clinical Director

Please view the below document if you are interested in becoming a Strong Minds Clinical Director.

Strong Minds Clinical Director Fact Sheet

Current Clinical Director: Wendy Aita, PhD


If you are interested in becoming involved in our Strong Minds screening events, please contact our Health Programs Director, Amelia Hamilton,