Special Olympics Advocates for Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

July 12, 2012

Washington D.C. – July 12, 2012 - In conjunction with the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Special Olympics strongly supports sending the convention to the Senate floor for a full vote.

The United Nations CRPD was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006, signed by the United States of America in July 2009 and was transmitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification on May 17, 2012. The CRPD establishes international standards regarding the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities and creates a common basis for greater civic participation and self-sufficiency. The CRPD reflects both core American values and core Special Olympics values of the dignity of the individual, equal access to justice, healthcare and the chance to participate fully as a member of society.

“By providing advice and consent for ratification, the Senate will underscore and ensure America’s global leadership in disability rights, and more importantly, advance the needs and gifts of hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” said Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Dr. Timothy Shriver. “Our nation’s leadership in enacting the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) 22 years ago served as a beacon of hope to people around the world and the CRPD seeks those same goals of empowering people with disabilities to be included in all aspects of society.”

Special Olympics aims to provide full implementation of the CRPD related to children and adults with intellectual disabilities (ID), as well as conduct outreach and support to families, caregivers and communities. Through global programming in the areas of sport, health, education and community-building, Special Olympics is strengthening local communities, informing national policy, and creating continued opportunities for people with and without intellectual disabilities to learn from one another, share with one another, and unite around the shared commitment to positive change. Special Olympics reaches people like Deon. Deon was born in 1978 in Namibia. When doctors saw he had multiple disabilities and some paralysis, they pushed the infant into a corner and left him to die. But Deon’s aunt was on the hospital cleaning staff and rescued her young nephew from what could have been fatal neglect. In those years, many other people shared those doctors’ low expectations. As a result, Deon recalls that his childhood and youth were “a bit difficult.” But then he found Special Olympics and says it changed his life “for the better” and “opened doors.” And today, Deon is recognized as a national sports hero across Namibia, where he has contributed immensely to his country by actively advocating for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and serves his community in a variety of different ways. Deon represents the millions of people with intellectual disabilities in the world who deserve a chance and an opportunity to reach their full potential.

Special Olympics provides experiences for 4 million athletes in 170 countries that truly transcend the playing field and transform our classrooms, our workplaces, and our communities. Despite significant progress, in many parts of the world people with disabilities are still denied their basic human rights, access to health care, inclusion in their communities and schools and denied the opportunity to reach their full potential.

As we work to break down these barriers, Special Olympics will be holding a Global Development Summit, Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities, at the upcoming Special Olympics 2013 World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea. This Global Development Summit will convene leaders from donor and recipient governments, development agency representatives, policymakers, NGOs, academics, people with ID, advocates, and other stakeholders to champion change and commit to sustainable, inclusive, and collaborative global development work for people with intellectual disabilities.

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports everyday around the world. Through work in sports, health education and community building, Special Olympics is addressing inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly four million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics is able to deliver 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 53,000 competitions throughout the year. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.

CONTACT:

Mandy Murphy
Special Olympics
+1 (202) 824-0227
mamurphy@specialolympics.org  

Kristin Hughes
Special Olympics
+1 (202) 824-0370
khughes@specialolympics.org

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