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Special Olympics Announces Groundbreaking Global Development Summit

Global Dignitaries Confirmed to Participate in the Republic of Korea in January 2013

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Wednesday 30 January 2013, world leaders from government, business, education, economic and social development, media and civil society will convene in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea at the Special Olympics Global Development Summit on Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities. This Summit, the first of its kind focusing solely on people with intellectual disabilities, will examine the urgent needs of the largest disability population throughout the world and will take place as part of the world's largest sports and humanitarian event, Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013 will be co-hosted by Special Olympics and the Special Olympics World Winter Games Organizing Committee PyeongChang 2013.

High level participants of the Global Development Summit will include:

  • Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, MP -- Chairperson, National League for Democracy, Burma (Myanmar
  • The Most Honorable Kim Hwang-sik, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea
  • Her Excellency Joyce Banda, President of Malawi
  • The Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica
  • The Most Honorable Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh
  • Senator and Vice Minister Jan McLucas, Government of Australia
  • The Honorable Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • The Honorable Wilfried Lemke, Special Envoy, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace

According to the recently published World Report on Disability, a joint publication by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, "Disability is also an important development issue with an increasing body of evidence showing that persons with disabilities experience worse socioeconomic outcomes and poverty than persons without disabilities" (xxi, WRD).  In 2006 the United Nations established the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to change attitudes and approaches in order to improve the lives of people with disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities comprise the world's largest disability population with an estimated 200 million people.

The Summit on Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities will raise challenging questions about the scope and underlying nature of the obstacles that prevent people with intellectual disabilities from being included and accepted as part of the larger global development agenda, and will help provide a roadmap for how models of intervention can be created, modified and expanded to include people with intellectual disabilities.  Persons with intellectual disabilities can be defined as having significant limitations in cognitive functioning and adaptive behavior that have onset by age 18 years. Intellectual disabilities can be either genetic or acquired (e.g., Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, traumatic brain injury).

"The misunderstanding, neglect and often outright discrimination against people with intellectual disability have been pervasive, with devastating effects on them and their families. This is well documented in personal stories and studies carried out in recent years.  It is time to bring people with intellectual disabilities out of the shadows and every sector of society must take part," said Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics.  "We in Special Olympics have seen the power and value that everyone experiences when the voices of people with intellectual disabilities are allowed to be heard."

"Global Development Summit will contemplate the equality of people with intellectual disabilities in society and communicate the opportunities to improve the level of their lives. I wish society will start to look at them just like they look at other people. Looking once, not looking twice," said Na Kyung Won, Chair of the Special Olympics World Winter Games Organizing Committee PyeongChang 2013. "As a part of the legacy to be created from the Special Olympics World Winter Games, we will see increased inclusion of people with disabilities in society and greater contribution to elevating the welfare of people with intellectual disabilities worldwide."

Additionally, in preparation for the Global Development Summit and in observance of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, Special Olympics encourages discussions about equality and inclusion and is calling on people around the world to define what "equality" means to them.  By visiting here, you can share your vision statement. 

From 29 January to 5 February 2013, the Republic of Korea will welcome more than 2,300 Special Olympics athletes from more than 110 nations to compete in seven Olympic-type winter sports as part of the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Every two years, thousands of Special Olympics athletes worldwide come together to showcase their athletic skills and celebrate the spirit of Special Olympics in alternating World Summer and World Winter Games. The first Special Olympics World Games took place in 1968 and since then have evolved into a world-class sporting event, attracting a wide range of sponsors, supporters and media. Special Olympics World Games bring public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities and are a capstone to more than 50,000 competitions that happen at all levels of Special Olympics each year. Special Olympics sports training and competitions, supported by a number of non-sports activities, help to change attitudes and break down barriers that exclude people with intellectual disability from the mainstream of the community.

The 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea from 29 January to 5 February 2013, at the same site where the 2018 Winter Olympics will be held. Media are invited to register now to cover the Games in PyeongChang this coming January. Media who cannot attend but can help spread awareness are encouraged to contact Special Olympics for details on satellite feed options, photos and stories available to the press. 

More information can be found at and

About Special Olympics:

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to 4 million athletes in 170 countries worldwide, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and related programs. Special Olympics takes place daily, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics;;, and

About the Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013

The 2013 PyeongChang Special Olympics World Winter Games will be held from January 29th to February 5th, 2013 at PyeongChang, Korea, the hub of winter sports. It will be the largest Special Olympics World Winter Games featuring 7 categories of sports including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, speed skating, figure skating, floor hockey, and demo sport, floorball. The Games will demonstrate unity of overcoming the differences of region, borders, political belief, age, race and religion. 

More information is available at the World Games official website:

SOURCE Special Olympics

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