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Global Leaders Converge for Special Olympics Global Policy Summit

Government, Health, NGOs, Sports, Academic, and Business Leaders Issue a Call to Action to Improve the Well-being of Individuals with Intellectual


SHANGHAI, China, Oct. 5 /Xinhua-PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leaders across government, health, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), sports, academic and business representing 60 countries gathered today at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China, to make a commitment to people throughout the world with intellectual disabilities and their families. Hosted by Special Olympics International, the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games Committee, and China Disabled Persons' Federation, "Commitment to Changing Lives: The Global Policy Summit on the Well-being of People with Intellectual Disabilities" is the largest summit event to cast an unprecedented light on the attitudes and needs of people with intellectual disabilities and the challenge they face throughout the world. The event brought together the greatest collection of key global leaders in an effort to educate, inform, and activate about critical issues facing individuals with intellectual disabilities.

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"The commitment made today by leaders from all sectors will help further the opportunities and rights of people with intellectual disabilities and the work of Special Olympics worldwide," said Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics International. "Through sport, Special Olympics lays a foundation for community-based development and advancement; collaboration with global leaders extends the reach even further for peace, prosperity and human dignity."

Using the powerful platform of sport, the Global Policy Summit presented five core areas: a global snapshot highlighting key research findings on the attitudes toward, status of and prospects for people with intellectual disabilities; an in-depth analysis of the progress that China has made and plans to strengthen outreach to this population as a World Games legacy; model corporate, NGO and intergovernmental inclusion and collaboration policies and practices that support and engage people with intellectual disabilities; discussion of model laws and policies currently in place and future policy implementation; and, the role of sport in advancing peace, fitness and health for people with intellectual disabilities. The Summit incorporated more than 30 scientific presentations about people with intellectual disabilities from around the world, while furthering opportunities for this community.

"The Global Policy Summit will be one of China's greatest legacies to Special Olympics," said Wang Zhijun, Chairman, Special Olympics China. "We are honored to showcase 25 years of impact and development of essential resources serving China's intellectual disability community in front of an unprecedented gathering of peers and influential global leaders."

Key addresses by high-ranking officials -- Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines, the Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, USA, and the Honorable Margaret Spelling, U.S. Secretary of Education -- focused on empowerment through community development, the power of Special Olympics to change lives and inclusive education, respectively.

"I am here to make a call to action to governments throughout the world, businesses, and NGOs that we really can make a difference for people for intellectual disabilities," said Bianca Jagger, International Human Rights Advocate, Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, Chair of the World Future Council and friend of Special Olympics. "And we are seeing a real turning point here in China and at these World Games."

The Special Olympics movement was strengthened as UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Lions Clubs International Foundation announced official "Commitments to Action" and encouraged other attendees to follow their lead. And earlier this week, FIFA pledged its commitment to Special Olympics. A UNICEF-Special Olympics partnership will promote the participation and empowerment of children with intellectual disabilities and their families through sports, initially in Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama and Uzbekistan, and will seek to build self-reliance, confidence and advocacy skills through 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. CDC and the Lions Clubs International Foundation announced continued support for Special Olympics and its health and research efforts with funding commitments. CDC recently renewed a five-year cooperative agreement with Special Olympics for services and education at US$4.34 million per year plus a five-year US$1 million per year research cooperative agreement. The Lions Clubs International Foundation extended its seven-year, US$9.1 million commitment to the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes(R) program, a vision program that has effectively provided more than 100,000 vision screenings to Special Olympics athletes and has provided more than 40,000 Special Olympics athletes with prescription eyeglasses, by earmarking an additional US$1 million in funding.

The Global Policy Summit culminated with leaders from government, NGOs, academic, corporations and sport, including Special Olympics sponsors such as Coca Cola, Bank of America and Phoenix Satellite TV, endorsing a Statement of Support targeting improving the treatment of, and attitudes toward, people with intellectual disabilities.

The full text of the Statement of Support, available in English and Chinese, official Global Policy Summit program and additional information about the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, is available at .

Special Olympics is an international non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to 2.5 million adults and children with intellectual disabilities across 165 countries. The Special Olympics Movement offers one of the world's greatest platforms for acceptance and inclusion for all people--regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or cultural differences. Corporate sponsors of Special Olympics include: adidas, Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, DHL, Mattel, Inc. and Mattel Children's Foundation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Find out how you can become involved at .

SOURCE Special Olympics International
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