Global Day of Inclusion shines a light on 50th anniversary celebrations

Special Olympics BC
Canada Place Sails of Light were lit in red for the Global Day of Inclusion on July 21.

The Special Olympics 50th anniversary celebration kicked off under the warm glow of red light, as communities across the province lit up the night sky on July 21 in honour of Special Olympics athletes worldwide.

Officially proclaimed the Global Day of Inclusion by the Province of B.C., a number of structures around British Columbia joined in the festivities to mark the occasion.

Dan Howe, President & CEO of Special Olympics BC, said the Global Day of Inclusion was the perfect way to kick off the year-long celebration.

“It was inspiring to see so many communities join in on the Global Day of Inclusion, whether it was by lighting up for the night, or having cities make proclamations to recognize the significant impact that Special Olympics has made over the past 50 years.” 

Howe said he’s hoping the added awareness from the Global Day of Inclusion and the 50th anniversary will lead more people to become involved in Special Olympics. He said people can refer friends or family members with intellectual disabilities to a Special Olympics program, help raise awareness of the organization’s mission, volunteer, or make a donation.

Tim Hortons got behind the Global Day of Inclusion in a big way, selling a Special Olympics doughnut on July 21, with proceeds going to support Special Olympics in Canada. Special Olympics athletes around the country were on hand at stores to help raise awareness for the event.

Howe said when sponsors like Tim Hortons get on board and help promote Special Olympics, it gives people with intellectual disabilities a stronger voice.

Special Olympics BC – Abbotsford athlete Paige Norton and SOBC Region 3 Coordinator and SOBC – Abbotsford coach Donna Bilous had a chance to help spread the message leading up to the Global Day of Inclusion. The mother-daughter duo were on Breakfast Television Vancouver on July 20 to talk about the significance of the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics.

“Special Olympics is about inclusion, and helping each other, and friends,” Norton said.

SOBC – Surrey athlete Susan Wang and SOBC – North Shore coach Randy Scott also helped promote the Global Day of Inclusion, going on CTV Morning Live Vancouver and Global News Morning BC.

 “Sport I think gives us determination, strength, and confidence to tackle obstacles in life and in sport,” Wang said.

Landmarks that lit up for inclusion include:

•    BC Place, Vancouver

•    Canada Place Sails of Light, Vancouver

•    City Hall, Maple Ridge

•    City Hall, Vancouver

•    Civic Plaza, Surrey

•    Parliament Buildings, Victoria

•    Rogers Arena, Vancouver

•    Science World at TELUS World of Science, Vancouver

•    TELUS Garden, Vancouver

•    Vancouver Lookout, Vancouver

•    Victoria Street Bridge, Trail

Proclamations by communities in B.C. marking July 21 the Global Day of Inclusion:

•    Province of British Columbia

•    Burnaby

•    Campbell River

•    Comox

•    Dawson Creek

•    Fort St. John

•    Kamloops

•    Kelowna

•    Keremeos

•    Kitimat

•    Merritt

•    Mission

•    Nanaimo

•    New Westminster

•    North Vancouver

•    Penticton

•    Port Alberni

•    Powell River

•    Richmond

•    Squamish

•    Trail

•    Vancouver

•    Williams Lake