Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Partnership for Empowerment and Awareness

The discrimination that children with intellectual disabilities face often means that they are less likely to have adequate healthcare and education, and more likely to encounter violence, abuse, and exploitation. UNICEF and Special Olympics International are now collaborating to reconcile these inequalities.

On October 3, 2007, they launched a partnership focusing on healthcare, education, recreational sports, and employment policies for children with intellectual disabilities. It coincides with the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai. While in the Chinese city, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman stated, “This new partnership will help make the point that children with disabilities have the same rights as all other children. They are entitled to adequate health care and quality education, and to live in an environment that protects them from abuse, exploitation and disease.”

The partnership will initially concentrate on Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama, and Uzbekistan, before expanding to more countries in 2008. Focusing on developing countries is especially important as children with intellectual disabilities in these countries run an even higher risk of being overlooked or mistreated.

Speaking about the partnership, Special Olympics International Chairman Timothy P. Shriver explained, “We are thrilled to partner with UNICEF to empower children with intellectual disabilities and their families and to increase public awareness about critical issues facing this population in the developing world.”

Education. Empowerment. Equality. Three words a developing country loves to hear.