Leveling The Playing Field—Through Play

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Question: \r\nAnd how does sports contribute to the achievement of rights for children\r\nwith disabilities?

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Tim Shriver: \r\nWell it's no secret that children love to play.  Play is the environment where the\r\nimagination is first tested and allowed to exercise itself.  Play is the environment where\r\nrelationships are formed in young children.  Mothers and children play, make believe, create the world in\r\nwhich they grow up and learn, create safety, creates a sense of understanding,\r\nallows emotions to be understood and made safe for a child.

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From the earliest of ages, it doesn't change much as children\r\ngrow. The games change: hide-and-seek yields to football and football may yield\r\nto swimming, but they're the same lessons, the same questions, the same exuberance,\r\nthe same desire to create a world where you can express yourself, where you can\r\nfeel positive and powerful, where you can have a sense of relationships that\r\nallow you to sore.  That's what\r\nsports is for most children, but sadly not for children with intellectual\r\ndisabilities for too many generations. \r\nWhen it came time for the child with special needs to say, "I'm\r\nready to play.  I want to test my\r\nskills, my body, my strength.  I\r\nwant a chance to win.  I want to be\r\ninvolved in all the fun and excitement and exuberance of sports."  Too frequency people said, "No,\r\nI'm sorry.  Not for you.  You don't belong.  You don't have the gifts.  You can't contribute."

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Sports, in our world, in the world of Special Olympics, is all\r\nabout saying, "Yes.  Oh, yes you\r\ndo.  Come into this world, we will\r\ngive you your chance to shine.  We\r\nwill tell the community around what you can do.  We will show your country that your time is now, your joy,\r\nyour imagination, your vision belongs in this country, too."

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Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver discusses the expansion of children’s rights through athletic competition.

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