Unified sports build a health society

I was born with cerebral palsy because I did not get oxygen for five minutes at birth. When I was just a few days old, the doctors told my parents that there was a very good chance that I would never sit up or swallow.  

The doctors were wrong! 

Living with cerebral palsy means that I have both physical and intellectual disabilities. My right side doesn’t work as well as my left, and day-to-day living can sometimes be a little more challenging for me. 

Overcoming challenge of cerebral palsy

That might sound a little sad, but I love my life. I have a great family and tons of friends. 

I love to play sports – I especially love swimming and basketball. I’m so proud to have won five Special Olympics gold medals and I’m training really hard to win another.

Our world can be tough for all kids, but especially for kids who are labeled as different. Kids with disabilities don’t do everything the same as kids without disabilities, so we often get excluded.  

Helping children with disabilities join in

I know some people see my disabilities, but sometimes I forget that I have cerebral palsy. It’s not the medical stuff that makes such a difference in my life. It’s people. It makes me feel special that everyone, even people that I do not know, find ways to help me participate.  

I want all kids to have that same special feeling of being accepted and included.

Math was not my favorite subject in school but here is an easy formula to remember: Acceptance + Inclusion = Progress. 

Photograph of Children enjoying themselves at the Special Olympics Unified Sports Event held at the National Indoor Sports Arena on Saturday, November 23.
Special Olympics JamaicaChildren enjoying themselves at the Special Olympics Unified Sports Event held at the National Indoor Sports Arena on Saturday, November 23.

Acceptance + Inclusion = Progress

Through Special Olympics, I get to participate in unified sports. I love it! It’s awesome!

Unified sports combine athletes with and without disabilities to play on the same team. Last year, my unified school basketball team won a huge trophy that is now on display in my school’s trophy case with trophies from the other teams at my school.

Unified sports are really important for kids with disabilities. We like to compete, have fun, and win – just like kids without disabilities. But I want to tell you a secret…Unified sports are also really important for kids without disabilities. 

Helping children without disabilities too

It helps create acceptance for differences and inclusion which is crucial to having a healthy society. I have gotten to speak and meet with lots of amazing people to remind them why it is so important to provide opportunities for kids with disabilities. 

But my favorite speeches are the ones that I get to give to other kids at schools. After these speeches, there is often time for questions. Most kids don’t know what it’s like to have a disability. 

They really get that while everyone has differences, we all like many of the same things. This is the message that we need to spread around the world. I am so happy that each of you are committed to making this world a better place for children with and without disabilities! And since we are here in jamaica, another way of saying this is, “One love!”

Lucy Meyer was speaking at the Special Olympics Unified Sports Event held at the National Indoor Sports Arena on Saturday, November 23. Lucy was visiting Jamaica for the second time as the first spokesperson for the Special Oympics-UNICEF USA Partnership for Children with Disabilities.

 

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