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Special olympics final project


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Special olympics final project

  1. 1. By: Matthew Gallineau
  2. 2. Special individuals with cognitive disabilities should be able to train and compete in sports at a national level. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics in the year 1968, shared a belief that these special individuals should be able to compete like everyone else in the world at an Olympic level. Eunice‘s motto was that exceptional children are exceptional athletes and should be afforded equal opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities. She believed these individuals should be able to attain their highest potential in life. Special Education has enhanced the progress and growth of Special Olympics programs; teachers motivate and give their students confidence to look beyond the classroom and help them to be a part of organized sports in the global community. Through Special Olympics these athletes can clearly visualize their abilities, learn to apply their strengths and our less concerned with their disabilities. They learn more about themselves and their hidden talents and as a result become well-rounded individuals. Organized sports have enhanced these individuals’ social and physical attributes; thru training and participation in Olympic events these athletes have the opportunity to become more physically fit and at the same time possibility meet and establish new friendships that may last a life time. In the long run, participating in Special Olympics has helped many individuals with cognitive disabilities maintain healthier, productive and more content lifestyles. The ultimate goal is to assist each individual in adjusting to circumstances that they have never experienced before and provide them with the opportunity to explore and develop as a person. Many of them become so proficient in sports that they have attained leadership and mentoring roles in the Special Olympics community. Special Olympics gives individuals with intellectual disabilities the freedom to compete in sports without peer pressure. At every Olympic event, all athletes are winners. .Footnote #1 Collins, Bill and Foote, “You know Eunice, The World Will Never Be The Same After This” “Internal Journal of Special Education, vol 26, No. 2011, pg 1-9
  3. 3. Throughout history we can point out people that have changed the way we think and live. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, eldest sister of President John f. Kennedy, was a change maker for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Eunice’s sister Rosemary Kennedy was stricken with mental retardation as a child. Eunice’s father Joseph Kennedy had founded the national foundation for mental retardation in 1948; Eunice wished to pursue her father’s mission to change society’s perceptions and the treatment given to individuals with intellectual disabilities. In 1962 Eunice Shriver Kennedy launched the Special Olympic program by inviting kids with intellectual disabilities to explore a variety of sports and physical activities in her own back yard in the form of day camps. The community got wind of her camps and from 1962 to 1968 more than three hundred camps were established over the country. Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her husband R. Sargent Shriver were motivated to provide more services to this population; they pushed the government, thru the Kennedy Foundation to obtain funding for Special Olympics programs and for the U.S and international Olympic committees to endorse the recognition of the Special Olympics. The Shriver’s started the first Special Olympics in July of 1968 at Sadler field in Chicago, Illinois. During this event there were roughly one thousand participants from Canada and the United States.
  4. 4. The sports events in this first Olympics were hockey, track and aquatics. Eunice and R. Sargent Shriver started the first winter special Olympic games in 1977 which took place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado where athletes engaged in the sports of skiing and skating. The Shriver’s continued with expanding the Special Olympics movement further by extending the games internationally to the middle and Far East Asian countries of know as the former Soviet Union. R. Sargent Shriver served as the president of the Special Olympic foundation and the chairmen of the Special Olympics’ international committee. Eunice Shriver passed away in August of 2009 and R. Sargent Shriver died in January of 2011. Their legacy continued through Eunice son‘s Timothy Shriver’s hard work and commitment to their cause. He became the Special Olympics ‘chairmen. Eunice and R. Sargent Shriver were responsible for changing the lives of many individuals afflicted with intellectual disabilities. Eunice Kennedy Shrive’s dream was that these individuals should not have to change themselves to reach their full potentials in life; rather society would be the one to change especially their false perceptions of these individuals. She believed after seeing this individuals display their God given talents on the Olympic field that society would accept them. Today this movement has involved over two hundred special Olympic programs, more than 3 million athletes and with 32 sports events and 800 countries.
  5. 5. Special Olympics is to the world’s greatest movement .promoting human acceptance and universal human value that the world has ever seen. These are the worlds deeply wounded victims of prejudice Special Olympic athletes represent a challenge to intolerance, prejudice, fear and human misunderstanding. Eunice Shriver once said, “putting a ball in a slow learners hands, and seeing them score, that’s when the perception of someone can change.”(1) What separates Special Olympics from every other competition is the love of being a part of something. They become confident and empowered by their accomplishments. They no longer see themselves as being someone who is alone and compromised by their disabilities because they are a valued contribute to their Olympic sport team. . Footnote#1 - Collins, Bill and Foote,J “Special Olympics Benefits to All.” Internal Journal of Special Education, vol 26, No. 2011, pg 1-9
  6. 6. The way Special Olympics can be defined is unbounded joy. You can see this in the faces of the athletes, their families and friends during the Olympic events ;exuberating happiness in their celebrations. The Special Olympics exemplifies a feeling of positive affirmation by reinforcing no matter what your disability is you can accomplish great things. Special Olympics are a wonderful opportunity to help transform people’s lives. In the 2008 Olympics in East Asia, special Olympic athlete Sipho Mjoka from South Africa expressed, “being here has been like a dream for me. Coming here being in these games is more then I imagined. It got me out of my world”.(2) These events provide them with courage to learn on their own and to apply this knowledge to their lives. It also gives them the opportunity to meet and interact with new friends. Special Olympics has given many individuals with intellectual disabilities a reason for hope, Brendan Foley, who has Downs Syndrome locked himself away from his family after his grandfather died. Brendan’s life changed when a coach saw his talent to catch a ball. Shortly after this recognition, Brendan was participating in the 2007 Special Olympic game in Shanghai as a team member of the Australia soft ball squad. Brendan Foley’s mother, Lynn Foley said,” Special Olympics became so important in his life; he works out five times a week. (3) Being a part of a team brought him back to us.” (3) Special Olympics provides individuals that have intellectual disabilities a forum for world acceptance of who they are. FOOTNOTE # 2 6.Wendel,Tim “Special Olympics Brings New Hope and Prospects to China” Exceptional Parent, vol. 38, p.g 12-26 FOOTNOTE#3 IBID pg 15
  7. 7. Those who volunteer to help out each individual during the Olympic Games really play an important role on the development and progress of these athletes make. They wear a variety of hats prior and at the games such as role models, chaperone, care giver, partner, coach, teacher and friend. They form a unity with the challenged individual through training. They are the ones that assist these athletes with the development of their vision of the special Olympic games. They not only prepare them and teach them sport related skills that enhance their performance but they serve to model and build their character which is an essential part of their play. During the preparation and training these volunteers bring enthusiasm, motivation ,commitment and positive thinking which help these athletes to be there best. They are required to attend Coach Excellence programs where they partner with sports organizations to attain the necessary coaching skills to mentor these athletes through the Olympic Games. This training assists these coaches to recognize their athletes potential, specifically being able to tap in to strengths and abilities of these athletes'. They teach their athletes to learn routines. Coaches instill strategies to enhance learning and the importance of following direction. Many of these coaches feel their lives have been transformed forever after having the privileged of mentoring these special individuals.
  8. 8. Special Olympics mission to develop cultural inclusion for individuals afflicted with intellectual disabilities. The special Olympic organization started Unified sports with the intention that for athletes with and without intellectual disabilities will compete and play on the same teams. This partnership has shown to have a positive effect on players. It has changed attitudes and has broken down barriers that have kept these special athletes apart from others for generations. Many of these partnerships have developed into lifelong friendships. As a result of the disabled athletes have demonstrated improved physical self-concepts which have enhanced their belief in themselves as an athlete. The goal of Unified sports is to formulate a bond amongst these players and to enhance the intellectually disabled athletes social relations and acceptance with their teammates. In ninety percent of the unified sports teams these individuals have reported an improvement in skill level and engagement which has enhanced their social relationships with their teammates. Unified sports in Special Olympics has brought out the spirit of the sports and has kindled the flame of commonalties amongst these players. The first unified sports game was in 1991, in Massachusetts with an Olympic soft ball team. The athletes with intellectual disabilities who participated in this game were less shy, and were much more adjusted to the team. There are thousands of unified teams in the special Olympic programs. The majority of the athletes with disabilities indicate that they enjoy these games and they look up to their peers without disabilities. People with non-disabilities learn more from those who have disabilities. A person with intellectual disabilities has gifts to bring in every conversation and to the playing field. Special Olympics aren’t just about the sport it’s about incredible amount of unity, comradeship, friendship, and bonding.
  9. 9. Training for each athlete is just like any other sporting event. They work very hard to win and compete with others. In order to compete in the Special Olympics athletes must have been formally diagnosed with an intellectual disability prior to the age of eighteen. The special Olympic organization requires each athlete to train for a period of eight weeks prior to the competition and for three hours each week. In order for an athlete to compete at the Special Olympics they must qualify at the local and state level in order to be a contender. In 1991 The Healthy Athletes program was formulated to ensure all special Olympic athletes receive free health screening, health treatment and necessary medical follow-up. This screening is to enhance the training and competition by ensuring the athletes are physical fit and healthy enough to compete. Healthy Athletes program implements hands on training which is accomplished by professional trainers, physical, occupational therapists and coaches. The athlete is given knowledge of the sport, given a performance evaluation and taught skills to enhance their abilities and comfort level. Special Olympic athletes train for traditional sports, their training consist of motor skill, weight training and coordination exercises. Each Olympic athlete is placed in a division of their chosen sport with other athletes that have similar attributes such as capabilities, age and sex. Eunice Shriver during the first Olympic game ensured the Olympic oath was conveyed to all the participants,” Let me win but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt.”(4) I think the most important thing about the games is when each person feels they accomplished something and that they were a part of something larger than they knew back at home. At previous Olympic Games the last athletes crossing the finish line receive more cheers than the leaders themselves. They should all feel happy that they were given the opportunity to better themselves and train for the Olympics. FOOTNOTE#4 IBID pg 2
  10. 10. Special Olympic events occur every two years and our very expensive to put on. Many of these events budgets exceed more than ten million dollars. There is funding for Special Olympics at local, state and federal levels of the government but it unfortunately is not enough. The Special Olympic committee and chairperson are continuous canvasing for sponsors and supporters, in the private and cooperate level, to subsidize the cost of the Olympic events. Cooperate sponsorship provides 90% of the special Olympic funding; some of these cooperation funding comes from such companies as Mattel, Procter Gamble, ESPN, AT &T. Many Marketers of global business support the Special Olympics to improve awareness of the cause and to enhance growth of community based special Olympic programs. There are social groups, whose sponsorship has an impact on the quality of the games, this includes the Lions club who contributes and supports the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program. Many celebrities, including movie and professional athletes such as Bono, Arnold Swarzenegger, Ellen Farrell, Matt Flair, Michael Phelps and Scott Hamilton have given major contributions or have sponsored fund raiser events. W.W.E is sponsoring the 2014 Special Olympics in New Jersey. They promise to bring a lot of money and attention for Special Olympics. Many major dignitaries such as nelson Mandela, President Clinton and Princess Charlene of Monaco, have been at Special Olympics and support the special Olympic events, they have served as ambassadors to this organization which drew national attention to the organizations and led to an increase in sponsorship.
  11. 11. The mission of Special Olympics is to make a difference of the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics games transforms these individuals by empowering them with confidence, improving their health and fitness and helping them to be more socially adjusted individuals. These games allow them to live out their dreams and gives them life changing experiences which in turn brings about emotions that they never knew existed, the comfort of friendships, the feelings of pushing themselves to the limit when training, the excitement and joy of competition and sure victory of winning. Over the past thirty plus years special Olympic athletes have proven that they can and will succeed; they overcome their obstacles with pure determination and heart. They are truly an inspiration to everyone.
  12. 12. 1.Borntrager,Randy “A Battle Cry for Inclusion”Exceptional Parent, Feb. 2006,Vol. 36, issue 10 pg.12-18 2. Briere,Donald ‘’Effects of Unified Sports Basketball Program on Special Education, Students Self-Conceptsfor Student Experience’’ Teaching Exceptional Children Plus. Vol 5. Article 1, Sept. 2008. pg 1-12 3. Collins, Bill and Foote,J “You Know Unice, The World Will Never Be The Same After This Internal Journal of Special Education, vol 26, No. 2011, pg 1-9 4. MacLean Jr, William E “The Rest Of The Story. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities”, Fall 2008. Vol .3 pgs. 146-149. 5. Shah, Nirvi ‘Sports Teams Extended Reach” , Educator Week, July 2012, pgs 1-5 6.Wendel,Tim “Special Olympics Brings New Hope and Prospects to China” Exceptional Parent, vol. 38, p.g 12-26 7. Vanderslice, Ronna “Special Olympics Benefit to All” Delta Kappa gamma Bulletin, Winter 2002, vol 68, pg 5-10