Watching the Olympics in Tokyo this week made me think of Special Olympics. Although I’ve posted over 450 Feel Good Friday blogs, I’ve never written about Special Olympics – until today.
Many of you may be familiar with Special Olympics, an organization that began in 1960 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver hosted a camp for children with intellectual disabilities in her backyard called Camp Shriver. The first Special Olympics Games were held in Chicago in 1968 and in the 50+ years since, 5,755,056 athletes have participated in 114,888 competitions across 200 countries!
The mission of Special Olympics is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.” You can watch a great summary of all their work in this 3-minute video, Changing the World Through Sport.
In addition to the high-profile sports competitions such as the 2022 World Winter Games which will be hosted in Russia, Special Olympics Unified Sports teams join people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to promote social inclusion through shared training and competition experiences. There are also several programs focused on developing Leadership skills for the athletes.
Because people with intellectual disabilities die on average 16 years sooner than the general population, Special Olympics Inclusive Health programs focus on providing people with intellectual disabilities access quality health care and opportunities that promote fitness and wellness. You can work on your own fitness goals with the exercise videos in the School of Strength.
If you’d like to support Special Olympics athletes there are several ways to do so: become a coach, volunteer or official, make a donation, sign the inclusion pledge and share the love on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @SpecialOlympics and Instagram @specialolympics. #InclusionRevolution