“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Nearly 50 years ago Eunice Kennedy Shriver jotted down these words for the Special Olympic athlete oath and still to this day is used as the oath for Special Olympic athletes. Kennedy saw that these individuals were often ignored and neglected but she saw the talents that they had to offer. She had a sister with an intellectual disability that loved to do many different activities. It is said, “Eunice Kennedy Shriver believed that if people with intellectual disabilities were given the same opportunities and experiences as everyone else, they could accomplish far more than anyone ever thought possible. She put that vision into action in 1962 by inviting young people with intellectual disabilities to a summer day camp she hosted in her backyard. She called it “Camp Shriver.” The goal was to explore the children’s skills in a variety of sports and physical activities.”
Every year kids and adults of various ages get together from around the wrold for Special Olympics. “Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in nearly 170 countries.” This organization helps the athletes find confidence and fulfillment in themselves and helps inspire others in their community. This is a good way for athletes with intellectual disabilities to find new talents and abilities they have.
This organization is something that can not only change attitudes but can change lives. This allows peoples with intellectual disabilities to come together with people from their own community. These athletes often overcome a lot more than we may think, and also work twice as hard as we may think. They go above and beyond expectations, and then some. It is said on Special Olympics. “We believe in a world where there are millions of different abilities but not disabilities.”
As a student in high school sports is one of the only things that keeps me sane, it is the thing I love most. Some people love sports, and some hate them and this is exactly how people with intellectual disabilities feel. Sometimes we don’t think about how much it can mean to someone else other than ourselves. It can be hard for people with intellectual disabilities to play sports with just anybody and I think that is a reason this organization was created. This organization offers the highest quality of Olympic-style sports training. Since 1968 the Special Olympics has been spreading the message that people with intellectual disabilities can and will succeed when they are given the opportunity.
The website Special Olympics says, “Special Olympics attitude research shows that the majority of people worldwide underestimate the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Our research also shows that their capabilities far exceed their expectations. With this knowledge in hand, we are opening doors for greater opportunities for them in education, health care and employment.”
Sports for children under eight years old focus on fun activities that are important to help the children grow mentally and physically. Special Olympics also says, “Young Athletes is an early introduction to sports and to the world of Special Olympics. The children learn new things, play and have lots of fun! Parents say their children in Young Athletes also develop better social skills. The confidence boost makes it easier for them to play and talk with other children on the playground and elsewhere.” Confidence is a very important thing to have and if you have it at a young age that can help you as you are growing up into your teenage years.
This event has been going on for a very long time because from the very first time it was a huge success. This organization can and has changed lives individually and as families. Special Olympics Games are held twice a year alternating with summer and winter. If you would like to donate you can go to the Special Olympics website, go to “get involved” and press “donate!” If you would like to contact anyone about this event, you can go to the same website press “about” and then “contact us”.