An "Awesome" Secret: The Universal Power of Unified Sports
“Many people believe that Special Olympics Unified Sports is great for athletes with intellectual disabilities. But I have a secret for you- it’s also very powerful for athletes without intellectual disabilities. It’s awesome!”
On June 14, Special Olympics Southern California athlete Lucy Meyer delivered a keynote address at a Special Olympics and U.S. Fund for UNICEF reception to highlight the partnership and its impact on children. Lucy serves as the official spokesperson for Special Olympics and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF partnership, which aims to generate visibility and raise funds for programs that benefit children with disabilities around the world.
Dikembe Mutombo, a Special Olympics Global Ambassador who serves on the Board of Directors of both organizations, opened the event with a targeted call to action: “I think we all know why we are here. Children with disabilities all across the world need our help- and it’s time to act.” He drew attention to the entrenched stigma that children with disabilities face in his home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in countries around the world.
“I am really grateful to Special Olympics for giving me the opportunity to share the stage with Lucy, and to serve as one of your Ambassadors. It is a distinct honor,” he said.
The partnership reception was also hosted by Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics, and Caryl M. Stern, President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
“The biggest thing we must do under Lucy’s leadership is to harness the power of sports to combat negative attitudes,” said Dr. Shriver. “All children deserve the chance to shine, to reach to their full potential, and through this partnership, we are committed to ensuring that more and more children realize this vision.”
Since 2007, Special Olympics and UNICEF have worked together to raise awareness of the abilities and rights of children of children with disabilities, in addition to changing perceptions and challenging negative attitudes. The two organizations have collaborated in 30 countries to promote the participation and empowerment of children with disabilities. The partnership builds self-reliance, confidence and advocacy skills through sports programming and related health and social services.
Acting President and Managing Director, Special Olympics Europe-Eurasia