Special Olympics is a volunteer organization that provides people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to strengthen their character, develop their physical skills, display their talents and fulfil their human potential through sports training and competition.
In 1968 an American lady named Eunice Kennedy Shriver in a small American town gathered a group of mentally handicapped people and started to work with them. She soon found out that they had the capacity drive and spirit to work hard at something, concentrate and compete. She also discovered that physical activity and competition had a very positive effect in the overall personality and behaviour of the children. As a result the first Special Olympics were held in Soldierfield Illinois. Over the years this story has been repeated in many countries by people like Mrs. Shriver and Special Olympics has now spread to thousands of cities and communities in 92 countries.
In 1989, Mr. Joseph H. Melrose Jr. introduced Pakistan to Special Olympics and its meaning and value to individuals suffering from mental disabilities. Over the last two years the idea of Special Olympics Pakistan has caught on such fire and enthusiasm that already three national events have been held. The programme has received enthusiastic support from individuals, companies and the government.
To provide opportunity for all people with intellectual disabilities to participate in year round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic type sports. Giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in the sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with other children, their families and the community.
Special Olympics contributes to the physical, social and psycho. logical development of people with mental handicap. Through successful experiences in sports, the athletes gain confidence and build a positive self-image, which carries over into the classroom, the home, the job and the community.
Many children have already benefited from the continuing practices, games and national events. Schools and parents have both noticed marked improvements in the children. A great level of confidence has developed in them and many children who were previously quiet, introverted and aloof have become confident and out-going and full of life.
To help bring all persons with mental handicap into the larger society under conditions whereby they are accepted and given the chance to become useful and productive citizens.
Individuals eight years or older who are identified as having mental retardation or who have handicapping conditions because of cognitive delays and have significant earning or vocational prob-lems are eligible to participate in Special Olympics programmes.
LONG TERM OBJECTIVES:
To increase public awareness and acceptance of the intellectually disabled into sports and recreation and eventually into the community.
To develop a higher profile nationally and internationally. To provided opportunities for better training and competitions. Greater family involvement.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE JULY 1991 OLYMPICS:
Nearly 6000 Athletes from over 92 countries will participate. 60,000 Spectators. Celebrities from all over the world will also participate.
(Contributed by: Special Olympics, Pakistan).
To commemorate the participation of the Pakistan Special Olympics Team in this International event, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs. 7/- denomination on July 19, 1991. The image on the stamp depicts the plight of the mentally handicapped person and how Special Olympics provides the path to self- confidence and release. The colours and graphic design are such that they depict a change from darkness and depression to joy, hope and new life.
Oath of Special Olympics is as follows:
'LET ME WIN. BUT IF I CANNOT WIN, LET ME BE BRAVE IN THE ATTEMPT'.