For people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics is often the only place where they have an opportunity to participate in their communities and develop belief in themselves. Many live lives of neglect and isolation, hidden away or socially excluded from full participation in schools or society. For athletes, Special Olympics sports provide a gateway to empowerment, competence, acceptance and joy.
The Power of Sport
The lessons learned in Special Olympics also impact their life skills. Sports training enhances focus and gives participants a structure for learning important lessons about perseverance, endurance and setting goals.
Many people are surprised to know that more than half (52 percent) of adult Special Olympics athletes in the United States are employed, half of those in competitive employment.
Opening Windows of Understanding
When people see the seriousness and sense of purpose evident in each Special Olympics athletic event, a window of understanding opens. In hundreds of competitions a year around the world, people everywhere get the chance to have their eyes opened and their perspectives widened.
Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Those activities give them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship.
Spread the Word to End the Word
It is time to Spread the Word to End the Word, and make people stop and think about their hurtful and disparaging use of the word retard.
Most people don't think of this word as hate speech, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends. Using "retard" as a term of derision is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur.
The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign will raise the consciousness of society about the dehumanizing and hurtful effects of the R-word and encourage people to pledge to stop using it.