Attitudes and perceptions matter, because they affect how people treat each other. Do they treat each other with respect and dignity? Or do they cling to misperceptions and stereotypes?
Special Olympics is raising awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Through sports, we showcase the skills and dignity of our athletes. We also bring together communities to see and take part in the transformative power of sports. Sports can change attitudes by bringing people together — regardless of ability or disability — in a very special way.
We know the odds our athletes must overcome and the barriers they face every single day. We see this at training events and competitions as our athletes push to beat their personal bests — and exceed them. Their stories and successes inspire us all.
Opening Windows of Understanding
When people see the seriousness and sense of purpose evident in each Special Olympics athletic event, a window of understanding opens. In hundreds of competitions around the world each year, people get the chance to have their eyes opened and their perspectives widened.
Special Olympics provides year-round sports training programs and athletic competition in a variety of sports for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Those activities give them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and share gifts, skills and friendship.
Misconceptions Frame Attitudes
Most attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities are framed by negative stereotypes and misconceptions. Yet when people see Special Olympics athletes in competition, they find their attitudes changing – not just about what those with intellectual disabilities can do, but also about what they themselves can do to help build a better world.
Familiarity Changes Minds
Special Olympics sport programs change attitudes and teach sensitivity and understanding of intellectual disabilities. This, in turn, leads to greater opportunities for communities to include people with intellectual disabilities and support them as they seek to enrich their lives.
Proof of the power of the Special Olympics movement can be seen all over the world, from B.C. to areas in Slovakia and throughout Eastern Europe, where Special Olympics is creating tangible change for people with intellectual disability in schools and on playing fields.
Important Work Ahead
Our mission is an urgent mission. That’s because people with intellectual disabilities are among the most vulnerable in the world. They are often ignored, neglected and excluded from schools and society. Special Olympics may be the only place where people with intellectual disabilities get the chance to become part of their communities and develop belief in themselves.
Our programs open a gateway for our athletes to achieve empowerment and acceptance. There are thousands more athletes we hope to reach — and thousands more lives we are working to change for the better.