Have you ever wondered how Speical Olypics got its start? it was in June of 1963 when Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a summer day camp for children and adults with mental retardation at her home in Maryland. Her purpose was to help these people explore their capabilities in a variety of sports and physical activities.
In that same year, the American Association for Health, Physical Education and REcreation joined with the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation in cooperative nationwide physical fitness program for individuals with mental retardation, offering awards for individual achievement in strengh, stamina and coordination.From 1964-1968 hundreds of comminity and private organizations throughout America established day camps financed by the Kennedy Foundation. Activities at these camps proved that the physical abilities of individual with mental retardation far exceeded previous estimates.
Recognizing that individuals with mental retardation needed far greater opportunities for participation in sports training and athletic competition. Eunice Kennedy Shriver conceived an international sports event on July 19-20, 1968. Together with the Chicago park Districe, the Kennedy foundation planned and underwrote the First International Sjpecial Olympics Games held in Chicago's Soldier Field. Over 1,000 individuals from 26 states and Canada competed in these games. These mentally retarded individuals competed in track and field and swimming events.
In DEcember 1968, Special Olympics Inc. was established. This not-for-profit charitable organization received pledges of support form the Nationa Association for Retarded Citizens, the Council for Exceptional Children and the American Association on Mental Deficiency.
By January 1970, all 50 states, the district of Columbia and CAnada had set up Special Olympics programs. Over 50,000 athletes were participating in local programs of sprots training and competition. In March of that same year the national Hockey League Board of Governors announced their sponsorship of the International Special Olympics Floor Hockey program. In June 1970 550 athletes participated in the first French Special Olympics GAmes -- the first time a country outside of the United States and Canada had participated.
On July 19-27, 1991, the Eight International Summer Speical Olympis Games will be held in Minneapolis/St. paul, Miss. It will be the largest international multi-sporting event ever held in Minnesota.