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EVOLUTION OF THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS INTO A GLOBAL SOCIAL MOVEMENT

• Published on 31 Jul. 2015 • Category :Sport • Tags : 2015

EVOLUTION OF THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS INTO A GLOBAL SOCIAL MOVEMENT

Powered by: Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics, United States

Daina Shilts, Special Olympics Athlete, United States

Soeren Polumbo, Co-Founder, Spread the Word to End the Word, United States

Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medalist and four-time World Champion in Figure Skating & Founder, Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, United States 

Jamaal Charles, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs, United States

The opening plenary session of the 2015 Doha Goals began with a moving yet thought-provoking discussion on the role sports plays in bringing about acceptance and inclusion for those with learning disabilities.

That sports has the ability to act as a bridge with which to build tolerance and understanding was never in doubt.

But the panel did question whether the teaching of sports in the 21st century has become too target-driven, and whether that inadvertently promotes exclusion rather than inclusion.

To all the speakers, the notion of inclusion was vital. Special Olympics AthleteDaina Shilts emotionally revealed her delight at being treated simply as an athlete by her fellow competitors at the 2013 World Winter Games in Korea rather than someone with a disability.

“They don’t ever let our disabilities define us,” she said. “They treat us exactly as they are and for me, that is the best feeling in the world.”

Soeren Polumbo, Co-Founder of Spread the Word to End the Word, picked up the baton, discussing how sports can be used as a tool to eradicate the stigma all too often attached to those with learning disabilities.

“It is a very simple solution to a very complex problem – it’s not about meeting in a room and developing a new policy, it’s about meeting at centerfield, meeting on the soccer field, meeting on the basketball court, and saying we’ll all come together.”

Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Jamaal Charles, one of the most recognizable faces in the NFL, talked about his struggles in the classroom as a youngster due to his learning disability.

But sports, he said, had given him both the comfort of acceptance and the belief to succeed.

“Sports gave me my first belief that I can do anything in life. It gave me my first chance to be successful not just at playing football or running track – I felt I could be successful in life and in this world,” he said.

That left Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medalist and four-time World Champion in Figure Skating and Founder of the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, to sum up the thoughts of the panel.

“It’s not just that anything is possible,” he answered when asked to describe the feeling sports can bring to people. “It’s that anything is possible.”


Contact DOHA GOALS

Doha GOALS Foundation
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PO BOX: 23833
Doha, Qatar
T: +974-4413-6602 / F: +974-44136800
info@dohagoals.com

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