saxikath: (Default)
[personal profile] saxikath
I've been thinking a lot in the past day or so about Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and what she accomplished in her life, and what it meant.

She was a forceful advocate for people with disabilities, most notably in her founding of Special Olympics, but in other ways as well. I found this article referenced in a piece on Bear in mind that it was written in 1962, at a time when those with mental and developmental disabilities were commonly institutionalized and hidden away. Some of the language in the article isn't quite what we would use today, but in the context of its time, it's quite a dramatic statement of support and possibility. She was also an advocate in other arenas, and pushed her political brothers to consider the issues of those with disabilities as well. (I believe I read yesterday that Ted Kennedy said, "We wouldn't have had an Americans With Disabilities Act without her.")

Some of you know that my brother has developmental disabilities. (It's not a condition with a name; we've never been sure what the specific cause is, though oxygen deprivation during gestation or birth seems to be the most likely.) He's participated in Special Olympics over time, especially in something called Unified Sports -- team sports in which half the team members have disabilities and half don't. His softball games were always a joy to watch. Summer after summer, you could see the players' confidence and abilities improve, and the social outlet was at least as important as the physical. It can be very lonely, I think, to be an adult with disabilities -- especially someone like my brother, who is high-functioning enough to live in his own apartment (with support), but doesn't have a solid social circle. The social support from an organization such as Special Olympics can be vital.

So I salute Mrs. Shriver and all her efforts. Today's facilities and possibilities for people with disabilities are tremendously better than they were 40 years ago, and her advocacy played a significant part in that change.

Date: 2009-08-12 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She was quite a lady. Made me sad to hear yesterday.


Date: 2009-08-12 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was eloquently said Kath. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Date: 2009-08-12 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was beautiful!

My boss is on the board of SO and knew Mrs. Shriver well. you should come to one of our events...Harvard Law School Project on Disability -

It's a new project and really interesting.

Date: 2009-08-13 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We're pretty new. Last fall was our public debut, as it were. We have a few events each, mainly focusing on international issues pertaining to physical and intellectual disability. Some of it is law-oriented, but some isn't. I'm planning a fun event with a great band, Flame. All of the members are ID, many autistic and some with physical disabilities as well.

The focus of the program is to educate the public and political spheres on the rights of persons with disabilities, working on legislative change, grassroots person in the program was just at the WH with Pres. Obama for the signing of the UN Converntion on the Treatment of Persons with Disabilities.

This is my "part-time" job at work ;-)

Drop me a line and let me know if you want me to put you on the email list.

Date: 2009-08-13 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I very much appreciate hearing your perspective on Shriver and what she accomplished.

Date: 2009-08-13 03:23 pm (UTC)
ext_36698: Red-haired woman with flare, fantasy-art style, labeled "Ayelle" (keiko head)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, wow. I salute her, also.

Date: 2009-08-13 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for posting this--I hadn't quite realized all the things Eunice Shriver did for the disabled. Some of my fondest(and most hilarious) memories of Hannah have to do with Special Olympics--the time they had to lure her to the finish line with a cookie, for instance... I still have all her medals and ribbons hanging proudly in the kitchen.


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