Special Olympics: An Emerging Player in the Sport for Development Field

Special Olympics International and Brown University’s Sport and Development Project Launch New Report

(Providence/Washington DC, December 3, 2012) On the occasion of December 3, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, with the theme, "Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all," we are pleased to announce the release of a new report entitled, "Special Olympics: An Emerging Player in the Sport for Development Field", outlining the sport for development initiatives of Special Olympics. The report was prepared by Kasey Haas, a Royce Sport and Society Fellow and a senior at Brown University, as part of a broader collaboration between Special Olympics and Brown University’s Sport and Development Project. The report traces the development of Special Olympics from its origins to the present and discusses the sport for development programs of Special Olympics in the fields of health, community integration, and advocacy.

 Special Olympics was founded in 1968 under the leadership of Eunice Kennedy Shriver in an effort to create an opportunity for people with intellectual disabilities to be integrated into society and participate in sport. Today, Special Olympics serves over 4 million people with intellectual disabilities in 170 countries, 70% of which reside in the developing world. With the expansion and diversification of its athletes, Special Olympics programming has grown to meet the larger needs of the population it serves. Special Olympics has evolved from a sports organization to a sport for development organization that uses the power of sport to increase social inclusion and provide access to resources such as health care and education.

Because people with intellectual disabilities remain one of the most marginalized populations in the world, development initiatives often fail to reach them. Sport is a universal language that convenes people from diverse backgrounds and bridges social divides, making it an excellent tool to connect and empower marginalized groups. Special Olympics programs such as Healthy Athletes, Healthy Communities, Unified Sports, and Athlete Leadership Programs utilize sport to ensure that the athletes that participate in Special Olympics are not only guaranteed their right to sport, but also other basic human rights.

This report signals the launch of a new partnership between Special Olympics International and Brown University’s Sport and Development Project. The Sport and Development Project at Brown works with academic and community partners to better understand how sport can be utilized to improve the human condition on a local and global scale. As Special Olympics continues to emphasize its sport for development agenda, the two organizations will work closely to increase awareness about these programs and the role sport can play in promoting humanitarian and development objectives, particularly for marginalized groups such as people with intellectual disabilities.

To access the full report: Special Olympics: An Emerging Player in the Sport for Development Field

 

 For more information, please contact:

Mandy Murphy Senior Manager, Media and Public Awareness, Special Olympics
Email: mamurphy@specialolympics.org

Janelle Nanavati, Director, Research and Evaluation, Special Olympics
Email: jnanavati@specialolympics.org

Kasey Haas, Sport and Development Project, Brown University
Email: Kasey_Haas@Brown.edu

 Eli A. Wolff, Sport and Development Project, Brown University
Email: Eli_Wolff@Brown.edu