Missouri Special Olympics - Acceptance and Inclusion through Sports
This week the Rotary Club of Fulton was privileged to host Debbie Luckinbill and Ken Petterson as our guests as they discussed how Special Olympics Missouri seeks acceptance and inclusion through sports and the competition provided each year in Olympic style games.
Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, every day, everywhere. We are the world’s largest sports organization: with nearly 4 million athletes in more than 170 countries -- 15,000 of them here in Missouri. We are also a global social movement. With initiatives to activate youth, engage kids with intellectual disabilities, build communities, and improve the health of our athletes - we're changing the game for people young and old and asking you to be a part of it all.
Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment -- on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.
For 40 years, Special Olympics has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.
With training and competitions in 21 Olympic-style sports, our athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From the local ballfields to the shining stage of the World Games, from swimming to skiing, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities.
Project UNIFY is acceptance. Project UNIFY is unity. Project UNIFY is youth driven. Project UNIFY is friendship. Project UNIFY is fun. Project UNIFY is a U.S. national project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It is much more than a re-naming of existing school-based programs; rather, it is an innovative response to the unequivocal research that shows Special Olympics local programming can contribute to eradicating the social and environmental walls to inclusion.
Young Athletes starts everybody on the right track. Children 3-7 learn skills and push their limits in a fun way. Family members and supporters see more of the children's abilities, not their disabilities. And everyone becomes part of the Special Olympics community.
Special Olympics works to spread compassion and acceptance in a way that can unite the world. Our goal is to awaken everyone -- and every community -- to each person’s common humanity. This vision of inclusion starts at the local level. It is expanding on a global scale.
There are about 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world. We want to reach out to every one of them – and their families and communities as well.
Special Olympics is also the world's largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Many of our athletes come to us with neglected health problems. At State Games and other events, we offer a wide range of free health screenings and care.
Our goal is to bring better fitness, nutrition and healthier lifestyles to everyone involved in Special Olympics -- from athletes and their families, to coaches and volunteers.
Anyone wishing to contribute or volunteer for Special Olympics Missouri can list their website at www.somo.org.