BENEFITING: UNICEF USA
UNICEF USA + SPECIAL OLYMPICS + ME (LUCY!!)
My name is Lucy Meyer and I am the Official Spokesperson of the Special Olympics- UNICEF USA Partnership! I’m also UNICEF USA's Spokesperson for Children with Disabilities and a Special Olympics swimmer. In 2015, I served as a Global Messenger at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. It was awesome, most importantly because I got to share more about the important work that UNICEF and Special Olympics do together around the world so that kids with disabilities, like me, can live safer, healthier lives and have more FUN!
Since that time, I have been traveling around the U.S. working to raise awareness and funding for really important programs for children living with disabilities in Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Jamaica, and beyond. We need your help to expand this work! We want to reach many thousands of young people who face isolation, abuse – or worse—due to their disabilities. The money we raise will fund the following initiatives which are run by Special Olympics with UNICEF’s support:
- Young Athletes: A program that is designed to engage children with intellectual disabilities, ages 2-7, through developmentally appropriate play activities to foster physical, cognitive and social development. The Young Athletes program complements children’s development and prepares them for many of the gross and fine motor skills required to participate fully in school activities.
- Family Health Forums: Running concurrent to the Young Athletes program, Family Health Forums educate and empower family members to provide appropriate stimulation and activities for their child in their home environment, while also offering health promotion tips and educational resources. The nearness to the Young Athletes activities provides an important opportunity to raise awareness about the abilities of children with intellectual disabilities, both to families and to the community at-large. The Health Forums not only provide a support system for families, but they bring together parents and caregivers of children with intellectual disabilities in an event that facilitates direct family health information, recruiting key speakers from partners such as UNICEF, local governments and health institutions to provide support to caregivers and parents.
- Special Olympics Healthy Athletes: This program offers health exams to participating Special Olympics athletes free of charge. The program has received a number of international awards, and has been recognized by groups like Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization, Global Health Council, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It addresses the health needs of persons with intellectual disabilities and helps change the attitudes of the medical and healthcare community toward treating this special-needs population. Comprised of seven individual clinical disciplinary programs, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® events can include exams for health, dental, vision and hearing. Also, children with disabilities will be afforded early childhood development programming as well as select health exams to provide value-added components to this global partnership.
- Special Olympics Unified Sports®: Dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences, Unified Sports brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding. In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability, which makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for everyone. Having sport in common is just one more way that preconceptions and false ideas are swept away.
More About Me
- I have cerebral palsy because I didn't receive oxygen for five minutes at birth. At that time, the doctors said that I would most likely never sit up or swallow.
- Now, I’m 18 years old. My cerebral palsy affects my eyes and speech a little. My right hand doesn't work as well as my left, and my right heel won't touch the ground. School subjects are a little tougher for me, and sometimes my eyes don’t work as well as I would like.
- But! With a little help, I love to play tennis and soccer. I love to skateboard, bike, surf, run, jump with my friends on the trampoline and my favorite sport is swimming!
- It means so much to me to compete with Special Olympics (I’ve even won five gold medals!) I had never competed or been a part of a sports team before, and I want other kids with disabilities to have the same experience. Special Olympics changed my life!
- You can see what I have been up to in this cool People.com article!
- Read the press release about the Special Olympics - U.S. Fund for UNICEF Partnership
- Let’s be friends on Facebook and Instagram!
About the Partnership (in their words!)
UNICEF and Special Olympics joined forces in 2008 to advance the rights of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities while providing communities worldwide the opportunity to learn and benefit from inclusion and acceptance of differences. Today, the partnership is active in more than 30 countries and every region around the globe. UNICEF USA and Special Olympics believe that respecting, fulfilling and protecting the rights of children represent the foundation of human progress.
I just love doing all of this and I can't thank you enough for your support! What I want more than anything is for all kids with disabilities to be included and for their parents to not be ashamed of them - every kid should feel special - it feels so good! Please join me in helping Special Olympics and UNICEF USA make a better world for kids with disabilities.