From July 25 to Aug. 2, people with disabilities will be at the forefront for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. The importance of delivering a successful event in these games should not be underestimated. While not as popular as the Summer Olympic Games, this event gives these persons a platform to show their sporting talents as well as the impact they are making in their sports and beyond.
As they grow older, people with disabilities face unique challenges. In societies that are not inclusive of all types of people, this group can be viewed as strange, less than ordinary, unfit and much more, which can lead to long term effects of depression, isolation and anxiety. Here in Los Angeles County, public officials must ensure that these residents are respected and cared for in the cities where they reside. Also, advocates can help revolutionize the public through advocacy, education and empowerment.
It is evident that people with disabilities are making an impact in every aspect of society. Their stories need to be told and Special Olympics continues to do a great job in the sports section. According to the website, the goal of the games is to “…unite the world through sports in a celebration of the abilities and accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities and forming a new global vision of acceptance.” Ultimately, tolerance is the crux of the matter. It is high time the world deals directly with problems affecting people with intellectual disabilities, such as abuse, disregard and humiliation
So far, the 2015 Summer Games has produced inspiring athletes who have won medals. Kyle Dutiel of Brandon, Miss., won a Gold Medal in the equestrian competition. Jennifer Maddox, an equestrian from Henry County, Ga., also became the gold medalist in English Equitation. In addition, Team Ireland currently has 22 medals across sports including Table Tennis, Equestrian and Athletics. These are just a few examples. For those that did not medal, the pride and satisfaction of competing in the games is a win by itself.
While the race is far from won, people with disabilities can thrive in societies that confront prejudice and respect every life.