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The Revolution is Inclusion: First-ever Special Olympics athlete-led panel to convene at United Nations

Athlete leaders demand inclusion for all during 12th Session of the Conference of States Parties

NEW YORK, NY - June 6, 2019: On Monday, June 10th, Special Olympics International, in partnership with the United Nations (UN) Division for Inclusive Social Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations will host a panel discussion at the United Nations in conjunction with the 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Six Special Olympics athlete leaders from Zimbabwe, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Florida, Missouri and California will lead a panel discussion promoting the need for inclusive policies and programs for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Titled, “The Revolution is Inclusion: Sport as a Catalyst for Social Inclusion,” the panelists will discuss how sport helped them develop skills and become leaders in their respective communities. They will underscore how the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) commitments and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be met unless individuals with ID are among the decision makers—ensuring that all persons with ID, who are often overlooked and misunderstood, have equal rights as those without ID, as well as equitable access to services and resources, including sport, which has the power to change attitudes and foster inclusion.

“There are approximately two hundred million people with intellectual disabilities in the world who consistently face exclusion. For the very first time, people with ID truly have a seat at the table to help influence inclusive actions and policies. I hope attendees walk away from this panel and think about how they can be more inclusive in their governments and in their countries. We all must choose inclusion and create a more inclusive world for everyone.”
Mr. Dustin Plunkett, Special Olympics Athlete and Manager of Outreach and Athlete Leadership, Special Olympics Southern California.

Ambassador Luis Gallegos, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations will give opening remarks, with Mr. Dustin Plunkett moderating the panel. Panelists include:

“As a Special Olympics Board member and active contributor to building more inclusive policies and practices, I have witnessed the transformative power of sports in changing mindsets and erasing negative stereotypes,” said Ambassador Luis Gallegos. “The SDGs simply can’t be met if the most marginalized and vulnerable population of people aren’t heard, aren’t included, aren’t decision makers. Inclusion should be a cross-cutting theme throughout the entire international development agenda.”

The Revolution is Inclusion: Sport as a Catalyst for Social Inclusion

COSP12 Side Event10 Jun 2019 - Side event at the 12th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Read the full description. View the event flyer.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in over 190 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, IKEA Foundation, the Lane Family, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium. Learn more at

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