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Special Olympics and Catholic Relief Services Begin New Partnership Together

November 06, 2013

New global health partnership aims to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

CRS Event

For Immediate Release

Baltimore, Maryland ­- Two world-class organizations - Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Special Olympics International (SOI) – have joined forces to help people with intellectual disabilities in developing countries gain access to services and interventions that will help them thrive." People with disabilities are among the most marginalized, isolated and neglected populations in the world. They and their families have not been adequately or proportionately represented in development strategies, interventions, funding or goals. This partnership will help address that urgent need," said Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International.

Catholic Relief Services works in 91 countries providing innovative solutions to address tough problems like poverty, hunger, drought, disease and emergencies, reaching more than 100 million of the world's poorest people each year.  It is uniquely placed to help deliver services to people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics offers health services and health education to people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Completing more than 1.4 million free health screenings since Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® began in 1997, as well as providing follow-up care items such as fitting 2,000 hearing aids and supplying more than 90,000 prescription eyeglasses, Special Olympics has grown to become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.

"Through this new partnership, we will strengthen health systems to diagnose and address the needs of children with intellectual disabilities.  Communities play a key role in building access and demand for services.  We will work through our extensive network of partners to engage communities to fight stigma, advocate for services, and mobilize people with intellectual disabilities," said Carolyn Woo, CEO and President of CRS.

Activities will include integrating routine screenings for intellectual disabilities into child health programs; teaching community health workers to identify and refer children for services; adopting inclusive approaches in CRS' existing education and vocational training programs, and overcoming stigma with information that will empower individuals and groups to advocate for their own rights.

About Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on Twitter @CatholicRelief and @CRS_expertise; and

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports every day around the world. Through work in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics addresses inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 4.2 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics is able to deliver training and competition opportunities in 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 70,000 events throughout the year. Visit Special Olympics at Special Olympics: Home Page. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics;;, and

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