Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver discusses the expansion of children’s rights through athletic competition.
Question: rnAnd how does sports contribute to the achievement of rights for childrenrnwith disabilities?rnrn
Tim Shriver: rnWell it's no secret that children love to play. Play is the environment where thernimagination is first tested and allowed to exercise itself. Play is the environment wherernrelationships are formed in young children. Mothers and children play, make believe, create the world inrnwhich they grow up and learn, create safety, creates a sense of understanding,rnallows emotions to be understood and made safe for a child.rnrn
From the earliest of ages, it doesn't change much as childrenrngrow. The games change: hide-and-seek yields to football and football may yieldrnto swimming, but they're the same lessons, the same questions, the same exuberance,rnthe same desire to create a world where you can express yourself, where you canrnfeel positive and powerful, where you can have a sense of relationships thatrnallow you to sore. That's whatrnsports is for most children, but sadly not for children with intellectualrndisabilities for too many generations. rnWhen it came time for the child with special needs to say, "I'mrnready to play. I want to test myrnskills, my body, my strength. Irnwant a chance to win. I want to berninvolved in all the fun and excitement and exuberance of sports." Too frequency people said, "No,rnI'm sorry. Not for you. You don't belong. You don't have the gifts. You can't contribute."rnrn
Sports, in our world, in the world of Special Olympics, is allrnabout saying, "Yes. Oh, yes yourndo. Come into this world, we willrngive you your chance to shine. Wernwill tell the community around what you can do. We will show your country that your time is now, your joy,rnyour imagination, your vision belongs in this country, too."rnrnrn