Florida Clubwomen Inspire Support of Special Olympics
February 20, 2017
A recent posting to the GFWC App by Anita Jenkins, President of the GFWC Coco Plum Woman’s Club (Florida), has drawn attention to the number of clubs and clubwomen supporting Special Olympics. Founded in the early 1960s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Special Olympics aims to provide people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to discover strengths and develop new skills through sports. GFWC has a special history with the Special Olympics, as it was the Special Project of GFWC International President Juanita M. Bryant (1982-1984).
Globally, there are almost 200 million individuals living with intellectual disabilities. Intellectual disabilities are defined as limitations in cognitive functioning and difficulty with the skills necessary for day-to-day life such as being able to communicate effectively, interact with others, and take care of oneself. However, the staff and volunteers at Special Olympics “believe in a world where there are millions of different abilities but not disabilities”.
Special Olympics offers their athletes much more than the chance to participate in over 30 Olympic-style events. A wide range of services are provided including sports training, health screenings, and instruction in leadership techniques. These services help athletes meet challenges on and off the playing field with increased confidence.
Special Olympics volunteers act as coaches and trainers, officials, event organizers, fundraisers, and fans cheering in the stands. As President Jenkins says, “There is nothing more rewarding than watching an athlete cross the finish line, bowl a strike, or make a basket. If club members cannot be on the field as coaches, they should consider sitting in the grandstands and cheering on the athletes. It means so much to them.” There are hundreds of Special Olympics offices around the world, and all of them need assistance at various times during the year. Click here to find the Special Olympics Office nearest you.
Justine, whose husband Paul is a Vietnam Army veteran, has been an active clubwoman for 17 years. If there’s a club office, she’s held it.
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