Islamabad, May 11, 2015 – The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and Special Olympics Pakistan hosted a pre-departure orientation at the Pakistan Sports Complex for athletes, coaches, and support staff who will be competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July. The event is part of the U.S. State Department’s Inclusion Diplomacy outreach to promote disability rights around the world. American officers joined volunteers from the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network to participate in friendly matches with the basketball and football teams from Special Olympics Pakistan to prepare the Pakistani athletes for competition.
A record 85-member Pakistan contingent will participate in the Special Olympics World Games, the world’s largest sporting event that showcases the skills and accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities. Participants will compete in various events including: aquatics, badminton, cycling, football, basketball, powerlifting, tennis and table tennis. The Special Olympics began in the 1950s as a summer day camp for youth with intellectual disabilities organized by Eunice Kennedy-Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy-Shriver’s vision and drive for equal opportunity for persons with disabilities eventually grew into the Special Olympics movement.
Currently more than 32 Olympic-style individual and team sports provide meaningful training and competition opportunities for persons with intellectual disabilities. An important component of the games is the Special Olympics Unified Sports, specific events that join people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to break stereotypes and build paths to friendship and understanding.
2015 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a ground-breaking civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. While serving as ambassadors of Pakistani culture and society in the United States, the Special Olympics Pakistan delegation will gain firsthand knowledge of how the ADA has transformed American culture and society.
For more information about the Special Olympics, visithttp://www.specialolympics.org/.