Health Policy

UNICEF and Special Olympics launch project for children with intellectual disabilities

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Special Olympics International on October 3, 2007 launched a partnership to advance the rights of children with intellectual disabilities to mark the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Shanghai, focusing on health care, education, recreational sports and employment policies. Special Olympics are held for helping those with disabilities to develop their full potential. The new partnership will help make the point that children with disabilities have the same rights as all other normal children. Special children are entitled to adequate health care and quality education, and to live in an environment that protects them from abuse, exploitation and disease. The new partnership will raise public awareness of the abilities and rights of children with intellectual disabilities and aims to change perceptions and challenge negative attitudes. It will promote the participation and empowerment of such children and their families in their societies, including through sports, and will seek to build their self-reliance, confidence and advocacy skills. The UNICEF-Special Olympics partnership will initially focus on Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama and Uzbekistan, and will be expanded to more countries in 2008. The discrimination experienced by many such children means that they are less likely to have access to health care or education than other children. It may also undermine their self-esteem and their interaction with others, and make them more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation. The collaborative effort is in tandem with the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to counter stigma and promote inclusion for children with intellectual disabilities in developing countries around the globe.

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