President Obama and the First Lady to Serve As Honorary Chairs of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games

The Special Olympics honor a tradition that started more than fifty years ago with a little creativity, a lot of heart, and a big backyard at Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s house.  Today, that simple day camp has grown into one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world for people with intellectual disabilities.  Here at the White House, we’re already looking forward to the next games.

Today, the Special Olympics announced that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will serve as the Honorary Chairs of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.  California Governor Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will serve as Honorary Hosts for the Games. 

The Obama Administration recognizes the invaluable lessons in discipline, passion, determination and courage that come from participation in sports.  We believe that everyone, regardless of their ability should have equal access to those invaluable lessons provided by participation in sports.  Earlier this year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued guidance that clarifies existing legal obligations of schools to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate alongside their peers in after-school athletics and clubs. The guidance makes clear that schools may not exclude students who have an intellectual, developmental, physical, or any other disability from trying out and playing on a team, if they are otherwise qualified.  And, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition includes “I Can Do It, You Can Do It!,” which facilitates and encourages opportunities for all Americans, regardless of ability, to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition.  Through sport competitions such as the Special Olympics, we can reshape assumptions about what persons with disabilities can and cannot do.  It is reassuring that the number of people with disabilities involved in sport and physical recreation is steadily increasing around the world.

In a video released by the White House, the President said:

Hi everyone. Here at the White House, we’re already looking forward to the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.  Michelle and I are so honored to serve as co-chairs of this inspiring event.

The Special Olympics honor a tradition that started more than fifty years ago with a little creativity, a lot of heart, and a big backyard at Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s house.  Today, that simple day camp has grown into one of the biggest sporting competitions in the world for people with intellectual disabilities. 

In 2015, more than seven thousand competitors from 170 countries will gather in Los Angeles for the Special Olympics World Games to show off their athletic abilities.  And we couldn’t be prouder of them.

The athletes coming to these games represent the grit and determination that is at the very root of the American spirit.  They keep working when the challenges seem greatest…they see opportunity where some see limitation.  They represent the very best of the human spirit. 

So, please join me and Michelle in supporting the 2015 World Games, and make sure you get out there to cheer on Team USA.

Claudia Gordon is an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement
Related Topics: Disabilities, California
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