Special Olympics Slovakia has recently launched a new campaign to raise awareness about discrimination against athletes with intellectual disabilities in their country. While the Slovak Constitution protects and rewards professional athletes such as Olympians and Paralympians, it does not offer the same recognition to athletes with intellectual disabilities. For example, it does not take into account the role that athletes with intellectual disabilities play in representing the country at international events nor does it guarantee any of the benefits that other athletes can easily access.
With the “We Are Here With You” campaign (Sme Tu Medzi Vami, in Slovak), Special Olympics Slovakia aims to change this distorted perspective on intellectual disabilities in sports. The team has drafted a Declaration of Inclusion, a document asking the state for equal treatment and consideration for athletes with intellectual disabilities. “The Declaration of Inclusion is our revolution without violence,” says Eva Gažová, National Director of Special Olympics Slovakia. “It is necessary to remind [the authorities] that we are among them.”
Swimmer and triathlete Peter Išpold, gymnastics athlete Gizela Billíková, equestrian athlete Filip Graňo, swimmer Vanda Kračunová and cyclist Michal Štubňa are the five Special Olympics Slovakia athletes who have been chosen as the faces of the ’We Are Here With You’ campaign. Their success and their dedication is testimony to the level of professionalism and the achievements of so many athletes with intellectual disabilities.
With the Declaration of Inclusion, Special Olympics Slovakia is highlighting how discriminatory and unjust it is to leave athletes with intellectual disabilities out of the national conversation. Their achievements, skills and international roles are just as important as those of any other athlete. The document has already been signed by almost 2,000 supporters and many more are expected to sign it in the coming months. So far, the community has been very supportive and even Olympic skeet shooter champion Danka Bartekova endorsed the Declaration and appeared in the campaign video! The ‘We Are Here With You’ campaign is a significant step toward a more inclusive future. Special Olympics Slovakia is determined to open up a conversation about equality and inclusion not only in sports but in many other aspects of the lives of their athletes!
Learn more and sign the Declaration of Inclusion.