Nothing is more exclusive than competitive sports, but the Special Olympics has long advocated for an all-inclusive unified sports organization. The Special Olympics began when Eunice Kennedy held a summer camp for intellectually disabled people in her backyard in Washington, D.C, June 1962. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the sister of John F. Kennedy and her most influential idea was to shift the focus of what people with intellectual disabilities cannot do and show the world what they can do. Through interactive sports, the stigma surrounding people with intellectual disabilities will fade away.
Anchorage, Alaska is fortunate to have its own Special Olympics athletic community. The Special Olympics, as many might mistakenly assume, is not only for people with intellectual disabilities; it offers programs for just about anyone to join. To name a few: the Healthy Athletes program that educates and provides athletes with health screenings; Camp Shriver is a two week long sports oriented camp for teenagers without intellectual disabilities in the summer; and the Senior Program helps adults over 30 to become more active. The mantra of an all-inclusive, unified sports organization resonates throughout numerous programs offered to the community on the Special Olympics website: specialolympicsalaska.org
The power of sports transforms what people thought they could never do into a reality. The Special Olympics has spread throughout the world, inspiring communities and people to push themselves and others into becoming proactive participants. Fostering an environment where people of different backgrounds can come together and forget their differences, the Special Olympics has reached over 5.3 million participants and partners since the inception of Eunice Kennedy’s dream in 1962. Being involved with the community and making an impact in the lives of others is all-inclusive journey.
Photos: Courtesy of Special Olympics.
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