Since 2001, the Lions Clubs International Foundation's generous support has made it possible to expand Special Olympics' Opening Eyes initiative globally. The contribution not only maintains and improves all aspects of the initiative, but also helps provide volunteer support to the organization.
History of Support
In 2001, the Lions Clubs International Foundation awarded Special Olympics the first grant in a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment. Since then, the foundation has given more than $1 million each year. Together, these two organizations work to bring proper eye care to Special Olympics athletes around the globe through the Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes program. The commitment is more than just financial. Lions Clubs has supported the Opening Eyes program with thousands of volunteers from more than 80 countries. Lions play a crucial volunteer role, assisting with registration, color vision testing, visual acuity tests and distribution of glasses and protective sports goggles. In some cases, members also conduct some of the actual vision tests.
Unified Sports: Mission Inclusion
As part of the Special Olympics- Lions Clubs International “Mission: Inclusion” partnership, the LCI youth network-Leos- have become a strong global partner in expanding and implementing Unified Sports together with Special Olympics. The Leos have helped both start, and sustain, Unified Sports in a number of nations worldwide, and serve as one of the movement’s strongest youth leadership networks in bringing inclusive programming to communities across the world. From Zimbabwe to Brazil and from California to India, the Leos continue to amplify the voice of athletes, and embody the creed: Play Unified. Live Unified.
Leadership Academy Support
Working with executive, athlete and youth-based leaders throughout the globe, the Special Olympics Leadership Academy strives to ensure that these leaders are equipped with the skills, tools and support necessary to enhance the Movement and promote inclusive attitudes and behaviors in the world around them. Lions Clubs International Foundation’s support has been critical to the creation and expansion of the Academy, providing the catalyst for a fundamental shift in the development and performance of leaders in the Special Olympics movement. Beyond financial support for the Academy, the real synergy has been between ‘Mission Inclusion’, Lions’ global initiative to serve individuals and organizations devoted to inclusion, and the Academy focus on inspiring Special Olympics leaders to build inclusive communities all over the world. Nothing has exemplified this synergy more than the in-person presence and contributions of Lions leadership at every Academy workshop since its inception, in locations as diverse as Delhi, Shanghai, Cairo, Rio De Janeiro, Lusaka and Washington DC. Together, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International are paving the way to create tomorrow’s community and global leaders through service.