Eunice Kennedy Shriver, an American lady, found that children and young adults from the age of seven with intellectual disabilities, or those with special needs, were being ignored and had nowhere to play or to kick a ball on the sports field. So in the late fifties she started a summers camp to entertain these children who were resident in her area. This was so successful that in July 1968 the first Special Olympics took shape for 1,000 children. In Feb 1977 she started the Winter Special Olympics which included skiing and skating amongst many other exercises.
The Special Olympics is so popular that the summer and winter events take place bi-annually with 4.2 million athletes taking part in 180 different countries and it is now the world’s biggest sporting event with more than 7,500 athletes.
A nervous wait on the starting blocks.
The four regions of Thailand hold an annual event and the Eastern Region held its seventh games at Pattaya school No. 7 recently. 270 children were involved in athletics, bocce and football and, would you believe, cricket was also being demonstrated as a possible event in the future. The technique left a little to be desired but they had fun doing it. Some of the winners from Thailand will be invited to take part in the next summer’s event which will take place in 2015 in Los Angeles.
Smiles all round.
Pattaya Sports Club, Jesters and YWCA are major sponsors of this event which was opened by Deputy Mayor Ronnakit Ekasing. The overriding factor in these games is the commitment and determination of each individual to finish the race, regardless of how far they fall behind the others in the race and the smile on their faces when they cross the finishing line is a joy to behold.
Medals being presented to the winners.
In one particular event, a young athlete not more than 12 years old, was a lap behind but still insisted on finishing the 2 lap race and was urged on, every step of the way, by the passionate volunteers. If all the golfers in Pattaya had this commitment, we would all be off single figures.
What a great two days!
The aim is to finish at all costs.
Some of the athletes raring to go.