At the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, UNICEF and the Special Olympics International launched a partnership to advocate for the health care, education, recreational sports and employment policies that will benefit children with intellectual disabilities.
The alliance will raise public awareness of the abilities and rights of children with intellectual disabilities. UNICEF and Special Olympics International will promote the participation and empowerment of children with intellectual disabilities and their families in their societies, including through sport, and will seek to build their self-reliance, confidence and advocacy skills.
The partnership was launched during a one-day Global Policy Summit entitled “Commitment to Changing Lives: the Global Policy Summit on the Well-being of People with Intellectual Disabilities,” which was attended by senior representatives from the world of sports, politics, business, academia and development. The Summit was co-hosted by Special Olympics, the 2007 Olympics World Summer Games, and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in December 2006, has increased the status and visibility of disability as a human rights issue. Building on this momentum, the UNICEF-Special Olympics partnership will also encourage national action to ratify and implement the Disability Convention.
The UNICEF-Special Olympics partnership initially focussed on Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama and Uzbekistan, and was expanded to more countries in 2008. In some of these countries, the two organisations have enhanced joint activities that are already promoting the inclusion of children and young people with intellectual disabilities, in addition to increasing youth activation and early intervention efforts.