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Teens and college students are the future leaders of Special Olympics.
It's the mission of Special Olympics to show the world the capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities.
We have over 4.5 million athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities around the world.
Our celebrity supporters are Olympians, professional athletes, social leaders, and movie and music stars.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a pioneer in the struggle for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities.
Direction for our movement comes from leaders in government, entertainment, sports and business.
All adults and children with intellectual disabilities can become Special Olympics athletes. Here's how.
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Make a Difference
Robert and Judith Weisman for Elyssa
My husband took my daughter who has Down Syndrome to breakfast at the McDonalds in Flourtown, Pennsylvania this past Friday. Everything was going well until he overheard one of the managers call another employee retarded.
Roma, the girl who smiles even though people bully her. Thank you, Roma. Thank you for not letting me give up.
By the time I graduated high school, my entire family had stopped using the r-word. When I got to college, I continuously told all my new friends to stop using that word.
One night, a group of teenagers set the residence on fire with the R word written over every possible surface they could find. Unfortunately, all residents and their caretakers passed away in the fire due to the inability to escape.
Growing up, I volunteered at an institute for children and adults with disabilities. The R-word was never a part of our vocabulary there.
Over the summer as I was working as a camp counselor, I had one camper that had Down syndrome. I didn't know it then but this girl would go on to change my outlook on life drastically.
The r word is bad. my friends and my sister say it all the time. im going to stop them and me from saying it no matter what.
Throughout my life so far I've had the honor to meet many people with an intellectual disability. Whenever I am with those people I can feel myself feeling happier than ever.
Hello everyone my name is Elizabeth. I am a global messenger, and I been involved in Special Olympics about 14 yrs now.
My boyfriend's sister has an intellectual disability. She's a sweet person and we've grown fond of each other.
Words are choices, think before you speak and think about how YOUR words may hurt someone or someone's family member.
The S2L group
Hello. We are a group of young adults with disabilities from Allentown Pennsylvania. Our group is the S2L group. We are associated with the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living.
I like Special Olympics because it has helped me open up more and also has helped me find friends that I consider my family, just as like they are my real family.
I put them on a bus with others some as special as them others leaders to help. My husband and I would meet them there but they would be staying a few days in campus dorms.
I was a teenager when I first started Special Olympics and the state that I started in was Virginia. I always loved doing Special Olympics because I love doing sports with my friends and the coaches are like my family.
Joseph M. Snyder
I used to used the r-word in casual context; never really understanding the weight of my words. From my exposure with the athletes and their families I was able to realize for the first time just how much the r-word hurts people with intellectual disabilities.
Bobby's Mom (aka Kerri Wise)
After battling cancer for the past year, I realize my time on this earth is limited. So, I wanted to try something different to make a difference in the world while I can.
Cheryl Kehoe Rodgers
Our high school had a few of their Best Buddies come down to present to our elementary school. My class instantly asked if we could make a movie to spread the word to end the word. How can I say no to 4th graders asking to help change the world?? We designed shirts & got to work!
One week we were doing this, at the square he let my hand go, balanced himself and put his foot on the ball. He looked up at me with the biggest grin!
I don't like the r word or any word used to hurt children ,my niece has cerebral palsy. she's in her 30s and is like a child. luckily she lives at home and wouldn't understand ,but I wouldn't want anyone to be called that.
I'm head-injured, but have a very scientific mind. I admire Steven Hawking. I want to build the first Special Olympics STADIUM in the world.
When I'm out and about or watching a movie with friends or family and hear someone using the R word to describe someone who is drunk, obnoxious or otherwise impaired it's a kick in the stomach to think they are comparing someone's socially unacceptable behaviour to my beautiful child!
Sheri (Baruch) Carlino
I have always been sensitive to the INSENSITIVE use of the word "RETARD" . I am the proud sister of a severely retarded human being who also deals with cerebral palsy.
I have a little brother who was born with a heart defect.
Very little did we know that he was born special. My little brother can't hear.
Linda Campbell Simmons
My big brother Kenny, was unique. When I was old enough to go to school was the first time I heard someone use this word towards him.
I was inspired by the person who created this website. So I was wondering why people use the r-word in the 1st place. I don't personally know anyone with a mental disorder, but I know there are people out there who think it's fine to call someone the r-word and also think it's time to stop it.
Soleil Savadove, a fourth-grader at Maple Glen Elementary School, has embarked on a campaign to get people in her community to stop using the R-word by asking them to sign the online petition on the Spread the Word to End the Word website www.r-word.org.
Retarded, retard, a word that just simply rolls out of our mouths. Yes, I am guilty of using this word until God blessed our family with Katie who is 6, and Madeline who is 3. Both sisters, both having Down syndrome.
Our younger kids are not aware enough yet to understand, but they will someday, and it breaks my heart to think they may be called this someday and be hurt, and it hurts me so much that my older children have now heard this word for the first time this year on their school bus and came home so upset and not knowing what to do or say to protect their little sisters.
I pledged to not say the R-word because I won't let a silly word bring down my little sisters. So I want to share my story with you. Both of my little sisters have Down syndrome.
One day while walking on campus and talking on his cellphone, another student walking by called Kevin a retard. There was no reason for it and this person did not even know him.
Everywhere in the world people look different. It's very sad that in 2014 violence and hate crimes still exist. People who happen to look "different" are not bad, scary or deserving of hatred. Every one is different.
I was told that I can't do that because of my asthma and my disabilities I wouldn't survive. When I was 16 I started competing in track and field in Special Olympics in high school. Special Olympics Pennsylvania taught me to believe in myself.
SHE WAS MY FRIEND. This was the first thought I had when I heard about the passing of my friend Sally Porter. Sally was my age. We grew up together.
When I was in school a few years ago, I was bullied. I was called the "r-word", the similar "s-word" and "d-word"'s and lots worse. I am glad that people are finally rising up about this hate speech.
When I was in school I participated in Special Olympics. I really liked the long jump. I got some first place ribbons and some fifth place ribbons but I still enjoyed it.
Special Olympics Lover
Special Olympics has been so important in my life. It is not just about socializing and making friends. It is about Competition to. I have been competing in Special Olympics for a long time.
In fact more specifically a desire to spread the sharing of inherent love and respect as well as a personal misadventure with the other R word.