Since 2001, the Lions Clubs International Foundation has provided generous support to the Special Olympics movement, expanding the reach and scope of key programs in the areas of health, inclusive sports and community building through inclusive development through service worldwide. Through the “Mission: Inclusion” partnership platform, the Lions Clubs International Foundation and countless Lions Clubs have become a pivotal global partner in the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the world.
The Lions Clubs International Foundation awarded Special Olympics with a multi-year, multi-million dollar commitment to expand the reach of the Opening Eyes eye health and vision care screening program, with local Lions Clubs answering the call to serve through volunteer activation at screening sites in over 80 nations and growing. What began as a partnership to address the urgent need for health services for individuals with intellectual disabilities has expanded to create one of the most impactful service platforms in the world.
In an effort to create increased support and service to communities worldwide, both organizations leveraged the success of the Opening Eyes program to create the “Mission: Inclusion” service partnership. “Mission: Inclusion” provides support and service to a range of partnership activities, including family health education through Family Health Forums, youth activation through Unified Sports, community building through support to the Leadership Academy, national partnership development across the world, and critical support to the Special Olympics Unified with Refugees programming, supporting refugee and migrant youth worldwide.
The Lions Clubs International Foundation not only provides critical financial support to the movement, but makes available tens of thousands of volunteers locally for National Special Olympics Programs. Through the activation of individual Lions Clubs volunteers, and Leo youth members, the Lions Clubs International Foundation has provided key capacity building and community development, from developed to developing economies alike.
From Brazil to Malaysia and from Great Britain to South Africa, the Lions Clubs International Foundation and Special Olympics continue to make inclusive development through service a reality for athletes with intellectual disabilities, their families and their communities.