A Champion for Inclusion: Kim Samuel

For the past 15 years Special Olympics has greatly benefited from the generous and steadfast support of Kim Samuel, President of The Samuel Family Foundation. Kim serves on Special Olympics' Board of Directors as well as many other philanthropic boards and committees. She has also spent time studying the nature of isolation as it relates to poverty and human dignity.

Helping to Create a Unified Society

Kim Samuel marching along side the Canadian team delegation at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.

We are immensely grateful for the gifts, both intellectual and philanthropic, that Kim has given in support of Special Olympics. Her enduring generosity has allowed us to combat the stigma and isolation that people with intellectual disabilities face, and create a stronger, healthier, and more unified society in Canada and in 170 countries around the world. 

A significant part of this work has focused on training, empowering and involving families at all levels of the movement. From the participation of families in the Global Family Leaders Summit at World Games events to the training of local family Community Builders in Botswana, or the convening of Family Health Forums in Namibia, Kim's support has help us reach out to, empower and educate families across the globe.

Improving the Lives of Our Athletes and Their Famlies

Mother and daughter attend the South Africa Family Health Forum in 2013.

In addition to supporting our work with families, she has enabled us to build capacity and programming for Unified Sports and Young Athletes. Both programs have greatly impacted the lives of participants: Unified Sports has increased athletes' social skills and self-confidence as well as physical activity, contributing to a healthier weight and lifestyle, and Young Athletes has provided our youngest athletes' (ages 2-7) with the opportunity to improve their motor skill and related development such that they are positioned early on for a fulfilling life in the family and community. The inclusive nature of both these programs also improves athletes' and families' connections to the community and provides an opportunity to promote social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. These inclusive experiences pave the way for improved understanding, acceptance and the development of friendships.

Expanding Our Reach and Mission

In 2013, with Kim Samuel's support, 23 new Camp Shriver programs were a established throughout the world.

Kim's support doesn't stop there. She has given Special Olympics the chance to reinvent and build upon Camp Shriver. First held in 1962 in the backyard of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Camp Shriver was viewed as a way to bring individuals with intellectual disabilities together who lacked the same camp and recreation opportunities afforded to those without disabilities. It was Mrs. Shriver's intent to dispel unfounded fears and prejudice against individuals with intellectual disabilities based on a lack of understanding and interaction through sport and physical activities. Today, Camp Shriver provides an inclusive sports experience for youth with and without intellectual disabilities in developing programs where Unified Sports does not exist. In 2013 alone, with Kim's support, 23 new Camp Shriver programs were established in the following regions: Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, North America, the Middle East /North Africa, and Europe/Eurasia. Kim has also been a steadfast supporter of our work in Haiti, enabling camps and programming just following the earthquake in 2010 through today.

Integral to all of this work has been her commitment to research and evaluation. Kim's knowledge, experience and insight challenge us to envision and create new ways to have even greater impact on our athletes and families. For instance, a Young Athletes research effort that she supported was highlighted in a peer-reviewed article published in an international scientific journal.

We are extremely grateful to have Kim Samuel and The Samuel Family Foundation champion our work. We could not have expanded our reach and mission delivery at the pace we have and at the high levels of quality we've enjoyed without the Samuel Family's unwavering and passionate belief in our mission.