As he accepted a prestigious award, Special Olympics Chairman, Tim Shriver, made a point about people worldwide with intellectual disabilities.
“Their cause is, I think, the only cause in the history of social change whose voice has been primarily carried through sport,” Shriver said.
He made his remarks 16 January as he accepted the Walter Camp Football Foundation Distinguished American Award in New Haven, CT. The award is given each year to an individual who has utilized his or her talents to attain great success in business, private life or public service and who may have accomplished that which no other has done.
In his acceptance speech, Shriver explained that the Special Olympics movement has been a way for “the gifts, and dignity and value and worthfulness of people with Down syndrome or autism or William’s syndrome or other intellectual challenges [to be seen] as full and decent human beings.”
“They came to the playing fields of sport and turned the whole thing upside down. They redefined winning.”
Hear more of his powerful speech at the link below.
Last year, we produced a video about our athletes that featured them displaying signs. On the first side it says what society told them they could not do, and on the other side it tells what Special Olympics says they CAN do! We shared this video a while back, but thought it would be good to post again, both as a refresher, and for our new followers that may be seeing for the first time. We hope you enjoy!
Project Unify will kick off Year 7 this September and we are happy to be a part of this great movement! Here is a great saying that depicts what Project Unify really is… You can’t spell “Challenge without Change!” Because, with Project Unify, we are facing the challenges and changing the world!
Several months ago I was talking with a parent of a Special Olympics athlete. I asked the Dad how Special Olympics had impacted his family. His response was, “Special Olympics has made it okay for people to look at people with disabilities”. Immediately I knew what he meant. Many of us were raised not to stare at people with disabilities. Special Olympics made it okay to look, and made it okay to engage persons with disabilities in conversation and to have them as friends. If you have a child with a disability, if you are a volunteer, what has Special Olympics taught you?
– Pat Carpenter Bourgeois, President and CEO of Special Olympics Louisiana
A walk down the hall in her high school was not an easy one for sophomore Chy Johnson. People would throw trash, push, and call her names as she passed minding her own business. Chy’s brain works at only a third-grade level because of a genetic birth defect called microcephaly, but she knew enough to feel hate.
Chy’s mom tried speaking to the administration and teachers, but nothing changed. That is until close friend and football star, Carson Jones, stepped up to take a stand for Chy. He invited her to sit with his friends at lunch, made sure someone was always there to walk her to class, and protected her in each of her classes.
“I just thought that if they saw her with us every day, maybe they’d start treating her better,” Carson says. “Telling on kids would’ve just caused more problems.” There is no doubt that his plan is working. Chy has returned to her normal, bubbly self again and nothing can get to her now that she has her boys.
We love hearing stories about how one person or one family can make a difference. In this case, one family changed a nation!
Nina Marcellino is the mother of four children, including Rosa, a child with Down syndrome. In 2009, Marcellino learned that Rosa had been labeled retarded at school. Marcellino didn’t allow the R-word in her house, and none of her children described their sister that way. Nina teamed up with other parents and her state delegate to introduce a bill to change the terminology in Maryland state law. However, the movement didn’t stop there, it went all the way tithe White House!
Now known as “Rosa’s Law,” the law removes the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy and replaces them with people first language “individual with an intellectual disability” and “intellectual disability.”
“Respect, value, and dignity – everyone deserves to be treated this way, including people with intellectual disabilities,” said Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. “The President’s signature and the unanimous support of both the House and Senate show that our elected officials understand and embrace this ideal.”