Special Olympics celebrates 50 years in giant day of inclusion

In 1968, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke was a 23-year-old physical instructor at West Pullman Park on the southeast side. She came up with the then-extraordinary idea of gathering children with disabilities and helping them compete in a track meet and other sports.

Today, Special Olympics is an international movement working to create a more inclusive world to more than 5 million Special Olympians from 172 countries.

Still, despite its amazing success, people with intellectual disabilities still face neglect, stigma and marginalization, advocates say.

“For 50 years we have been breaking down barriers and creating solutions for real problems that people with intellectual disabilities face in the areas of isolation, inactivity and injustice,” says Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver .“We need to accelerate this work in our next 50 years, but also demonstrate how our athletes, people with intellectual disabilities, are teachers of empathy and inclusion. We know firsthand how the Special Olympics experience—and our athletes—bring people together in ways that erase the lines of division.”

On Saturday, July 21, 1-7 p.m., Soldier Field opens up to families of all ages to celebrate the Global Day of Inclusion. The free festival includes interactive games, family-friendly carnival rides, outdoor fitness classes and sports demos lead by Special Olympics athletes and a resource fair.

Hear Ann Burke talk about Special Olympics: http://bit.ly/2uiVKnV

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