Our research study of the health status and needs for people with intellectual disabilities led to the U.S. Surgeon General's report, "Closing the Gap – a National Blueprint to Improve the Health Care for Persons with Mental Retardation.” This report brought about a U.S. federal appropriation to expand the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® program, which to date has brought more than 700,000 health screenings to athletes in 92 countries.
Findings and challenges presented at the 2007 Special Olympics Global Policy Summit on the Well-Being of People with Intellectual Disabilities lead nearly 70 signatories representing global organizations and countries to endorse a statement of support for growing Special Olympics, and for promoting the acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities in society.
After learning about the disparities for people with intellectual disabilities and the impact of Special Olympics on their health, well-being and ability to participate in society, and after seeing first-hand the abilities and possibilities of the athletes at the World Games, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo elevated the department that handles national disability programs to report directly to her.
After Special Olympics research demonstrated the positive impact of sports training, Special Olympics and UNICEF launched a partnership to aid children with intellectual disabilities, focusing on health care, education, recreational sports and employment policies. The program began with Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama and Uzbekistan.
Special Olympics attitude research shows that the majority of people worldwide underestimate the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. Our research also shows that their capabilities far exceed their expectations. With this knowledge in hand, we are opening doors for greater opportunities for them in education, health care and employment.