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What we can learn from people with intellectual disabilities and Special Olympics

Thursday, December 26, 2019

My son is intellectually disabled. I read an article in the Washington Post today written by Timothy Shriver (chairman of Special Olympics) that I really liked. Let me share an excerpt with you.

"""" First, have faith, not necessarily in a particular religion or creed but in the goodness within every person. Choose to believe that everyone has something valuable and beautiful to offer. A deeply felt faith in the goodness within each person was the first step in healing the vicious prejudices against people with intellectual disabilities. People who believed in them refused to accept the judgments of those who didn’t.

Second, meet the person you have excluded. Look for common ground. In Special Olympics, ours is the playing field, where we laugh and cheer and compete. There are winners and losers at our games, but the real action is in our hearts, where fears are being overcome, barriers are disappearing, and, most importantly, common humanity is being revealed and relationships of respect are launched.

Third, celebrate gifts. In Special Olympics, we give medals to competitors at all ability levels when they enter the arena and give their best. Rather than emphasizing a contrast between strengths and weaknesses, our medal stands are places where we showcase the wide variety of human gifts.

Fourth and last, with hearts opened and relationships begun, start the work of trying to live with the inevitable pain and tension of life from a place of truth and love. There is no “them” and “us.” There is just “us.” Everyone belongs. We are each vulnerable, starving for connection and searching for a way to be of service to each other. We solve problems best when we solve them together.

...Maybe it’s time to listen to the healers instead of the dividers. Fifty-one years after the founding of Special Olympics, the work goes on. In schools and gyms and playing fields all over this country, young people are joining the movement and choosing to play, and live, unified. Athletes with intellectual differences are no longer victims: They’re leading and teaching us all how to create a more just and trusting future. It’s time the country listened.""""
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    OK, I know I'm WAY late to commenting on this blog, but Special Olympics is something I want to get more involved in. I was supposed to go to the 2020 S.O. with my Adaptive Music Class (middle school). Five of my 8th grade Show Choir members would come almost daily to that class to assist the students. Great friendships were made and these Show Choir kids were going to come to the Special Olympics to cheer on their friends. We had an incredible end of the year show planned with both groups doing a grand finale of The Greatest Showman tunes. Then COVID-19 canceled it all.

    I've been donating $$ to Special Olympics and I cannot wait until my Adaptive Music class can resume - hopefully in the 2021-2022 school year. I hope I have some exceptional 8th grade show choir students who want to help that class again and that we can participate with them in Special Olympics 2022.
    34 days ago
    "There is no “them” and “us.” There is just “us.” Everyone belongs."

    What a powerful insight . . . thank you! We are all less abled in some areas, more abled in others: oever a lifetime, we are likely all to experience "temporary " disabilities too. .
    127 days ago
  • SISSIE21
    Love this blog! Thank you for sharing ‘There is no them or us, just us.’
    127 days ago
    Dear Veronique, What a beautiful name and a beautiful blog. I agree with the others, you are a very special woman and Mom. Never forget that. Your son and you have a very special bond given to you by God. I that bond will get even stronger. emoticon
    277 days ago
    Beautiful message about an important topic. Thank you for sharing and you must feel so proud as a mother. emoticon
    482 days ago
    Words to take to heart and follow, for sure. Thank you for posting them. I didn't know about your son - does he participate in Special Olympics himself? Beautiful photo of him on your page.
    498 days ago
    Such a thoughtful share on important information. You know if you stop and think about it every person walking this earth has some type of disability. Some are seen and some are not. I've always tried to be respectful of all of my fellow humans and understand that we all have challenges and need to reach out to each other in love and compassion. emoticon

    You are the BEST mother and such a great human being Veronique..you KNOW how much I love and admire you! emoticon
    499 days ago

    Lovely blog, thank you so much.
    499 days ago
    499 days ago
    I love this message. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    500 days ago
    Veronique, this is a wonderful blog!! Thank you for sharing with us!!!
    500 days ago
    Thanks for sharing - that is all so true and should be followed by all!
    500 days ago
    So beautiful, thanks for sharing
    500 days ago
    Wonderful blog. Thank you .
    500 days ago
    I absolutely love this blog. Beautiful.
    500 days ago
    What a wonderful blog to post. You know how I feel about your awesome son. I just pray that everybody sees him as I do. emoticon
    501 days ago
    This is great and should apply to how we deal with all of our fellow human beings, regardless of how they differ from us.
    501 days ago
    Powerful message to share. Thank you. As an educator I can honestly say we all learned invaluable and unforgettable lessons from our friends that had intellectual and physical challenges. Having them share part of their day with us were some of my favorite teachable moments.
    501 days ago
    501 days ago
    Thank you as a mother of a 52 year old intellectually challenged son who is also almost non verbal & has mental health issues. I feel we get our kids to show us how to live in peace. My son will never be able to buy me flowers but the care & love I get is boundless.
    501 days ago
    Well said. "We are each vulnerable, starving for connection and searching for a way to be of service to each other. " So very true of all humans.

    501 days ago
    My husband's brother (now in his late 50s) is mentally disabled. I am thankful my family grew up knowing and accepting him. They are compassionate and considerate of others who have disabilities. emoticon
    501 days ago
  • LYNCHD05
    What a lovely. Log. Thanks for sharing with us and let’s hope we can all learn something from this.
    501 days ago
  • no profile photo SILVERNANCY
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    501 days ago
  • KITT52
    As you know I worked with People with intellectual disabilities...
    I learned so much...many life lessons on what the true meaning of loving is...
    I tried in my 30 + years of working to find something special in each person... they want what we all want...to be accepted, to be heard and to be valued...
    I thank God for giving me the courage to accept people for who they are... no matter there station in life...... WE ALL MATTER, WE ALL HAVE GIFTS TO OFFER..

    501 days ago
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