This year, the Special Olympics are being held in Abu Dhabi, where athletes compete across more than 30 individual and team sports.
The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Shriver; after she recognised that there were limited sporting opportunities for people who had an intellectual disability, like her sister, Rosemary.
Consequently, she decided to make a change, this began with inviting people with intellectual disabilities to a summer day camp in her back garden, and since then the games have continued to grow, last year celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
The Special Olympics’ mission is to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people.
It strives to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Currently, there are 200 million people with intellectual disabilities around the world and the Special Olympics goal is to reach out to every single one of them, and their families as well.
An intellectual disability can be caused by an injury, disease, or a problem in the brain, for example; Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, Williams syndrome, fragile X syndrome and Apert syndrome.
Having an intellectual disability means that they are certain limitations in how an individual’s brain works, which can sometimes affect how they communicate.
These limitations can cause a child to develop and learn in a different way to other children.
However, the Special Olympics gives them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
To date, more than five million athletes have competed in the Special Olympics, from over 170 countries.