Last week I had the privilege of attending Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration in Chicago. At every meeting, every reception, every event, we were reminded of Special Olympics beginnings and where the Special Olympics movement and athletes are today.
Special Olympics is not simply a nonprofit organization, but a movement that has transformed millions and millions of lives throughout the world. That is a staggering thought considering it started in Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s backyard with a small group of family and friends. Note to self: never underestimate what a group of family and friends can make possible if everyone’s hearts and minds are determined to make a difference.
At the 50th Anniversary Celebration, Special Olympics launched a 5 year campaign called The Inclusion Revolution. The goal of The Inclusion Revolution is to end discrimination of people with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) and instead usher in inclusion, acceptance, and unity for all. The revolution is inclusion. At one of the 50th Anniversary meetings we learned that studies show it takes 25% of a population to affect social change. The Inclusion Revolution, championed by today’s Special Olympics athletes and students in our Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program, will make way for an entirely different celebration 50 years from now. 50 years from today, people with intellectual disabilities won’t be experiencing the stares, bullying, and exclusion that they endure today. Inviting, valuing, and including people with intellectual disabilities will simply be the norm.
Our goal is set: 25% of New Mexicans (or more) in the next 5 years leading the way for inclusion. We can do this.
In the words of our Los Alamos athlete Gabe Rau: The best people are being cool to us. I have to say thanks to them for being cool to us. I love them to be cool. We are the champions!