Written by Sophie Okolo
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 people with disabilities a platform to show their sporting talents as well as the impact they are making in their sports and beyond.
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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.
Governments need to ensure that people with disabilities live in societies where they feel respected and cared for, because every life is precious. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, “…all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Even though people with disabilities do not fit the norm, they are entitled to happiness by having a good quality of life.
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Advocates can help revolutionize society through advocacy, education, and empowerment. Clearly, people with disabilities continue to make an impact in every aspect of society and their stories need to be told; therefore, the Special Olympics is significant in every way. 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 at the crux of matter.
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Lawrence Downes, member of the editorial board at The New York Times states that, “Whatever country or class they are born into, people with intellectual disabilities are frequently humiliated, abused and ignored.” It is high time for societies to deal directly with such problems and put changes into effect. For instance, “A new national poll shows that nearly nine out of every ten people consider ‘retard’ as a boorish, cruel word that simply should not be used,” according to Betsy McCaughey, a regular contributor on Fox News and CNBC.
While the race is far from won, people with disabilities can thrive in societies that confront prejudice and respect every life.
Are you watching the 2015 Special Olympics? If so, what is your favorite sport to watch? How do you feel about people with disabilities?