Special Olympics’ Kathryn Clark Honored With Peace Corps’ Kennedy Service Award

March 08, 2011

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Over the weekend Special Olympics’ Director of Athlete Leadership Programs Kathryn Clark was one of six members of the Peace Corps family to be honored with receiving the 2011 John F. Kennedy Service Award.

Clark won in the category of ‘Returned Peace Corps Volunteers’ for having demonstrated continued domestic and international service and leadership in her community.  Clark served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1968 to 1969 and in Jamaica from 1984 to 1987.

After returning from Peace Corps service in Sierra Leone, Clark became an area coordinator for Special Olympics in North Carolina. When she volunteered again with the Peace Corps in the 1980s - and at the request of founding Peace Corps Director, the late Sargent Shriver - Clark became the first Peace Corps volunteer to launch a Special Olympics-based project.  She eventually helped establish Special Olympics programs across the Caribbean and Africa and has continued working with Special Olympics ever since. 

Clark has been a longtime staff member for Special Olympics, dedicating her life to the organization for more than 30 years.  Now serving as Special Olympics’ International Director of Athlete Leadership Programs, Clark trains Special Olympics athletes to be advocates for the equality of people with intellectual disabilities.  She also recently welcomed in the new class of Sargent Shriver Global Messengers.  A resident of DeFuniak Springs, Florida, Clark earned degrees in special education and a Master of Social Science from Syracuse University.

According to Clark, “Peace Corps and Special Olympics are very similar–both work with volunteers in countries throughout the world, promoting hope, change, and fulfillment to everyone they touch.”

Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics said this of Clark, “We could not be more proud of Kathryn as she receives this much-deserved award.  She has demonstrated incredible leadership in bringing change to the lives of thousands of people with intellectual disabilities in Africa, the Caribbean, and in the U.S. through sports training and competition.  Most notably, Kathryn has demonstrated the power of what a Peace Corps volunteer can accomplish by building acceptance and breaking down the barriers of fear and rejection towards people with intellectual disabilities.”

In commemoration of Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary, on Saturday in Boston, Massachusetts, Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams and Caroline Kennedy presented the 2011 John F. Kennedy Service Awards to Clark and five other members of the Peace Corps family who have given outstanding public service, both at home and abroad. The awards are held every five years at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.  Peace Corps volunteers Chris Fontanesi (Romania) and Robert Ferguson (Mexico), Peace Corps staff Frances Asturias (Washington D.C. headquarters and Guatemala) and Mostafa Lamqaddam (Morocco), and returned Peace Corps volunteers Kathryn Clark (Sierra Leone, 1968-1969; Jamaica, 1984-1987) and Joseph Carroll Jaycox (Venezuela, 1962-1964) were honored.

Established in 2006, the John F. Kennedy Service Awards recognize two current Peace Corps volunteers, two returned Peace Corps volunteers and two Peace Corps staff members for exemplary contributions to the Peace Corps and the advancement of public service. Award recipients demonstrate exceptional service and leadership and promote the Peace Corps mission and three goals: to help people of interested countries meet their needs for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served; and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

About the Peace Corps
President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 3.5 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition health screenings, and other related programs.  Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in all regions of the world and in community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard.  Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.

CONTACT:
Mandy Murphy
Special Olympics 
+1 (202) 824 - 0227     
mamurphy@specialolympics.org

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