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February 17, 2014 | SOI General: Headquarters

Washington Post: Countering Stigma in Africa

By Lynn Aylward

Young athlete Yamikani, whose name means 'Praise,' participates in Special Olympics event.  Photo by Michael Gerson/Washington Post

Washington Post op-ed columnist Michael Gerson was inspired by Yamikani, a Young Athlete from Malawi, whom Gerson met during the African Leaders Forum on Disability. Gerson observes that intellectual disability may represent the last mile of global development, since people with intellectual disabilities are often the ostracized among the disadvantaged. In most cases, they are not even counted in health and education statistics and Gerson notes: "We count what we value." The columnist also notes that political leadership matters to counter stigma, and Malawi’s president, Joyce Banda, has emerged as Africa’s leader on this issue. The day when Yamikani and the writer met, at a full day of activities led by Special Olympics and its partner Catholic Relief Services, was a day where "everyone was celebrated and valued."

About Lynn Aylward: I work on global health and development communications for Special Olympics.

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