Last night I was really hoping to watch the coverage of the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Athens but unfortunately despite hundreds of TV channels no one choose to show it.
The Special Olympics doesn’t just train people for the games which takes place every 2 years, they also provide sports opportunities for people with learning disabilities all over the world and to me it shows what people with learning disabilities can achieve if they are just given the chance.
Dignity, acceptance, and a chance to reach one’s potential – these are human rights worth promoting for everyone. For more than four decades, Special Olympics has been bringing one message to the world: people with intellectual disabilities can and will succeed if given the opportunity.
What saddens me is that many people will never get this opportunity. In order to attend the games the competitors each have to raise the necessary funds, they have to pay for their own training and have to overcome prejudices – all this in 2011. Imagine if the same was said to a competitor at the mainstream Olympics or to footballers competing in the world cup.
Here is an opportunity for these people to be on top, to say to the world “look what I can do” and to say to other’s with similar conditions “look what you can do” and for the learning disabled community to have pride in itself and yet it is totally and utterly ignored.
In the 6 years work I did with people who had learning difficulties I saw many changes. I saw the difference education made, I saw the difference independent living made and I saw the difference the Special Olympics made to the lives of people I was working with. They blow out of the water the attitude that people with learning difficulties can’t be taught and that people with Downs Syndrome in particular have such poor muscle tone that they can’t do sports. Crazy thing is that the sports really really help and make a massive difference to someone’s long term health.
I’m really proud to have met Susan – she really is an inspiration 🙂