The Special Olympics

The Special Olympics is a series of sporting events held around the world every day.  The sporting events are for people with intellectual disabilities.  Today, there are 4.4 million athletes who compete in over 30 sports.  Every two years, the Special Olympics World Games are held.  There are the Special Olympic Winter games and Special Olympic Summer Games.

The Special Olympics began because of the work by Rose Kennedy Shriver and Dr. Frank Hayden in the 1960s.  Dr. Hayden was a physical education professor in Canada.  He said that exercise could benefit people with intellectual disabilities. He asked for the Canadian government to help organize a sports program but he got little support.

He then went to America and asked Rose Kennedy for help.  She was a very wealthy and powerful person.  She quickly agreed to help Dr. Hayden with money.  Ms. Kennedy also asked her friends and family to support Dr. Hayden.  In 1968, the first Special Olympics was held in Chicago.  Although not many people knew about these Olympics and there were not many sports or athletes, this was a very good start.

Since then, the Special Olympics has developed in many ways.  The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games were shown on ESPN, a major American sports television channel.  30,000 people volunteered to help out.  The Special Olympics is a huge success story.

Did you enjoy this lesson? If you did, why not try this one on Ancient Olympic Games or this one about Curling?

 



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