The beginnings of Special Olympics go back to the year 1962, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver (sister of the US- president J.F. Kennedy) organized summer camps for people with intellectual disabilities.
Eunice realized immediately that physical activity enables these very special people more chances for life.
A vision, which was developped out of care for her sister with an intellectual disability, Rosemary, has become reality. While there were only 1.000 athletes of 2 countries (USA, Canada) who participated in the first International Summer Games of Special Olympics in 1968, by now Special Olympics reaches 4,2 million athletes with intellecual disabilities in 170 countries.
The structure of Special Olympics
Special Olympics International (SOI) was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968 and has its seat in Washington/ USA. According to its structure, there are 7 levels of SOI, which administrate the worldwide Special Olympics programs.
Opening adress by Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the Internat. SO-Summer Games 1987 in South Bend/USA
„You are the stars and the world is observing you.
With your presence you are sending a message to every village, every city, every nation- a message of hope- a message of victory:
The right for playing on any playing field? You deserve it.
The right for studying in any school? You deserve it.
The right for doing any kind of job? You deserve it.
The right for being everyone´s neighbour? You deserve it.
The days of singling out and seperation are over!“ (Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 1987)