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Shriver, Claiborne Call for Global Unity -- Through Sport

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Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver is urging the world to heal prejudice and overcome divisions in the simplest way possible -- through sports. He and Special Olympics International Board Member Loretta Claiborne spoke at the First Global Conference on Faith and Sport in Vatican City. The conference aims to launch a movement among people worldwide to unite to develop their character, values and, even the enjoyment of life itself, through sport. At the opening session, Shriver issued a call for aggressive and compassionate outreach to people with intellectual disabilities and others on society’s margins. He told the story of 8-year-old Aaron Banda of Malawi, whose family didn’t know how to care for him and keep him safe. So they tied him to a tree with a leash. A Special Olympics volunteer intervened and helped educate Aaron’s family so they could better understand his disability. “The labels that many of our athletes carry have been a source of enormous pain,” said Shriver. But, through sports, people can better understand and appreciate a wide range of differences. He added, “This is how we can shift the hearts and minds of humanity toward the ideal that we are all more beautiful than we can imagine.” Claiborne closed the session as she described the importance of inclusive sports – and the joy. A longtime Special Olympics athlete, Claiborne added, ”You can’t get joy until you’re included.” Pope Francis is hosting the conference, with the support of the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee. Also attending is Special Olympics athlete Dina Galal of Cairo, who works in the executive office of Egyptian President el-Sisi.

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Editorial & Multimedia Director, Special Olympics