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Lauren P., Rachel L.

The Special Olympics' website.

The Special Olympics have offices in 120 countries and nearly every state in the United States.

History


The Special Olympics are for kids with intellectual disabilities, with the meaning of boosting self-confidence and personal accomplishment. The first official Special Olympic games were held in 1968. They were started by Anne McGlone Burke in Chicago. She then went to Eunice Kennedy Shriver to get some funding. Shriver suggested spreading the idea even more. In October of 2004, President George W. Bush signed the "Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act." This added government funding and support to the whole event, and even lead to the development of special educational programs, a Healthy Athletes Programs and others.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Olympics
http://bulk.resource.org/gpo.gov/laws/108/publ406.108.pdf

Personal Experience


I volunteered with the Special Olympics when they came to Cary Academy earlier this spring. I was put in the developmental activities that were specifically for people that had low mobility and weren't able to compete in the regular activities. The activities that were in the developmental area included a 10m assisted walk, kicking a ball as many times as possible, and knocking a ball off a tee as many times as possible. Many of these participants were in wheelchairs, while others were not but still didn't have much mobility. One of the things that I found interesting was that one of the school groups used a playground ball to calm down people in their group or encourage them to complete the activities.

After all the events were completed at the developmental area, everyone that was working there was asked to go to the track. At the track we got to help with events like the 50m dash, 100m dash, and the 50m walk. During these events, we could see how some of the participant's disabilities affected their ability to perform in the events. The people participating in the events on the track were on the other side of the spectrum than the people participating in the developmental events. Being able to help with both of these really helped me understand how these disabilities could affect the athletes and how much they could do. I was rewarding to see how happy all the athletes were after they completed their events and received their ribbons. I will definitely be volunteering at the Special Olympics for the next three years.
~Lauren P.