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Special Olympics and Stavros Niarchos Foundation Expand Unified Sports® Impact

Stavros Niarchos Foundation and Special Olympics leadership pictured at the Flame of Hope torch lighting ceremony in Athens, Greece.
Panos Vazaios, Internship Program Coordinator and Program Officer at Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Ambassador ad.h. Vassilis Kaskarelis, Senior Advisor to the Board of Directors and Member of the Executive Management Team of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Elenia Saloutsi, Deputy Chief Communication Officer and David Evangelista, President and Managing Director Special Olympics Europe Eurasia region, pictured at the Flame of Hope torch lighting ceremony in Athens, Greece which took place ahead of the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. The torch lighting took place at the Zappeion Palace in Athens, Greece on 27 February 2019. The flame will now be transported to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) ahead of the Games which kick off on 14 March 2019. Over 7,500 athletes from over 190 countries will compete in the Special Olympics World Games from 14 to 21 March 2019.

The following is an excerpt from an op-ed in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Dialogues, written by Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy P. Shriver:

For years, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has supported Special Olympics International’s effort to expand its Unified Sports programs in schools around the world. The program, “Unified Sports” is designed to enable children with and without intellectual disabilities to play together and by doing so, to learn to live together too. The lesson is as simple as it is profound: everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and when that happens, everyone benefits.

Today, that lesson is important not only for people with intellectual disabilities but also for the rest of us. There’s a new issue in our politics, but it hasn’t yet captured the urgent attention it demands. We debate immigration and reproduction; we challenge each other on issues of education and law enforcement; we voice powerful ideals around war and peace. We labor over the future of our planet and the sources of our energy.

These are indeed enormously critical issues, but what’s hiding in plain sight is the one issue that’s keeping us from being able to address any of them: our pattern of treating each other with contempt and robbing each other of their dignity. In community after community, in state after state, in religion after religion, we’re being torn apart not by our policy or religious values or differences but by the devotional anger and addictive virus of contempt. It’s not that we disagree that’s problematic; it’s how we disagree. And when we disagree with hatred and contempt, we make it impossible to solve the very problems that we claim to want to solve.

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