Guest post by: Mrs. Edvin G. Cabrera, SPED Teacher III
SPED-INTEGRATED SCHOOL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN
Special Olympics is a non-profit organization that was officially founded in 1968, giving form to its founder, Eunice Kennedy- Shriver (1921-2009), sister of the USA President John F Kennedy. A vision born in June 1962 in a summer camp at Eunice’s home, where children and adults with intellectual disabilities were invited in order for her to explore their abilities in various sports activities. Only six years after, in the summer of 1968, the U.S. Summer Games took place in Illinois with 1,000 participating athletes with intellectual disabilities from 26 states of the U.S. and Canada. From then on until today Special Olympics have evolved to a Global Movement that offers the opportunity to 3.7 million athletes with intellectual disabilities from 185 countries, mainly through sports, to reinforce their self-esteem, to discover their special abilities, and in this way become active and useful members of their societies.
The possibilities offered by the Global Movement to people with intellectual disabilities for participation in sports, social inclusion and demonstration of their competence to society is beneficial for themselves, their families and the communities in which they live, whatever their cultural, religious or other differences.
Last June 25 –July 4, 2011, Athens, Greece hosted the biggest event worldwide for the year 2011, the Special Olympics World Summer Games. The only Games in the world, where all participating athletes are Winners in their struggle for our respect in their diversity. Winners in their struggle for self-esteem. Winners in their struggle to defend their special abilities.
The Special Olympics World Summer Games ATHENS 2011 was the crowning of a long lasting movement founded in 1968 by a great woman, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who managed to realize her dreams of a global magnitude. To create a world that is not dominated by those who are excluded but by those who are included. Nevertheless, the Special Olympics World summer Games ATHENS 2011 held in Athens bore a special significance .They took place, without the presence of their founder, only two years after her death, in the land of “fair play” .Where the true values of competition were born. Where the talent of the Special Olympics athletes reminded us what the games were really about.
Athens is an attractive city. With a history spanning centuries, it reveals the traces of people who lived there throughout the ages – indeed some of whom were unique to the world. It is a city of contradictions, as are all modern-day metropolises. With much beauty, often hidden and little known, and its own problems. It is a lively city.
The Emblem of the Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 is a radiant sun, the source of life that underlines the excellence and power of the athlete that takes part in the Games. Excellence is depicted in the olive branch and power in the spiral form in the center of the sun. The colors reflect the Greek landscape and project emotions like passion for life in the warm red, optimism in the orange, determination in the blue, freedom in the light blue and hope in the green.
Eight (8) special athletes from SPED-Integrated School for Exceptional Children, Iloilo City was part of the Philippine Team who participated in the said event! June 25th at 20:00,Panathenaikon Stadium, The Opening Ceremony, an exciting and entertaining spectacle honored the athletes and celebrated the values and tradition of the Special Olympics World Games. The concept of the show was based on the Greek mythology. The ceremony was performed by hundreds of volunteers with intellectual disabilities and well known celebrities from Greece and abroad (Vanessa Williams and Stevie Wonder).
Competition days started from June 26 to July 3,2011 for Athletics .The venue was the Olympic Stadium, Athens Olympic Sports Complex. There were 1,095 special athletes participants from all over the world. The fundamental difference between Special Olympics Games and those of other sports organization is that athletes of all ability levels are encouraged to participate, and every athlete is recognized for his/her performance. Divisions are structured so that athletes compete with other athletes of similar ability in equitable divisions. Other factors that are significant in establishing competitive divisions, are age and gender. Divisioning yield no more than eight athletes per division.
Our special athletes from SPED-ISEC garnered the following awards: RYAN MOSQUERA –Gold-200m Run,Silver-100m Run; SHALAMIEL TINO MONTANO –Gold –Running Long Jump; JOSE MARIA ERDAO –Bronze-100m Run; CARL FRANCIS MACABALES -4TH Place-100m Run; CHERRY ROSE LOPEZ-Gold- Standing Long Jump and Silver-100m Run; PHOEBE CANDOLE-Gold-50m Run; EMILDA SORIANO-Bronze-100m Run.
LOUIES JOHN DECOLONGON, our lone special athlete from Iloilo City, was the Over-All Champion and GOLD MEDALIST in Division D (the highest division). The competition took place last July 1, 2011 at the Olympic Velodrome, Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA) with 202 special athletes participants. His award included 2 Gold for Dead Lift and Squat , 1 Silver-for Bench Press.
Indeed, our special athletes brought honor to our country and made us proud as Ilonggos! But most specially, as our athletes strived toward new personal records, demonstrated their skills and abilities and have sharpened through countless hours of training and competition, they sent us a message that within each of us lies not just passion but excellence. They sent us a message that unity depends on each of us believing in the highest of possibilities for all!