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At a glance: United States of America

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day promotes rights for people with intellectual disabilities

UNICEF joins Special Olympics in first annual commemoration on 25 September

© Special Olympics
The late Eunice Kennedy Shriver with Special Olympics athletes.

NEW YORK, USA, 24 September 2010 – Tomorrow, UNICEF will join its global partner Special Olympics International and other advocates for children with intellectual disabilities worldwide in marking the first Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day. This new annual observance has been established to celebrate the life and legacy of Ms. Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics in 1968 and remained a driving force for disability rights throughout her life. She died in August 2009.

Two of Ms. Shriver’s sons – Special Olympics Chairman and CEO Tim Shriver and Best Buddies founder and Chairman Anthony Shriver – announced plans for the day of action on inclusion, acceptance and unity, which will be held each year on the fourth Saturday of September.

Among tomorrow’s commemorative events are local sports clinics and seminars, the dedication of new and renovated ‘Unity Sports Fields’ to serve the world's poorest communities, and an online celebration of dignity for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

UNICEF-Special Olympics partnership

UNICEF works closely with Special Olympics International to advocate for health-care, education, recreation and employment policies benefiting children with intellectual disabilities. Launched at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, the partnership promotes the participation and empowerment of children with intellectual disabilities in their societies.

The UN 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 platform, the UNICEF-Special Olympics partnership also encourages national action plans to ratify and implement the disability convention.

“Every person,” Eunice Kennedy Shriver once said, “regardless of whatever different abilities they may have, can contribute, can be a source of joy, can beam with pride and love.” It’s a message worth remembering on the day that now bears her name. For more information, please visit www.eksday.org.



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