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Special Olympics Brings Disability Awareness to Los Angeles
By Amanda Scurlock, Intern
Published July 22, 2015
The Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics World Games will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 25 at 5:00 p.m. (Amanda Scurlock/LA Sentinel)

The Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics World Games will take place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 25 at 5:00 p.m. (Amanda Scurlock/LA Sentinel)

The Special Olympic World Games begin on July 25 in Los Angeles; 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from 165 countries will unite to compete. The event is expected to be the largest in Los Angeles since the 1984 Summer Olympics, according to the Games Organizing Committee.

The Special Olympics highlights the athletic prowess of people with intellectual disabilities, competitions will go on for two weeks. The World Games consists of 25 sporting events that include Bowling, Equestrian, Aquatics, and Triathlon among other sports, according to the Special Olympics website.

Organizations are using this event to stress the importance of disability care to the citizens of Los Angeles. Special Needs Network, an organization with a mission to raise consciousness of developmental disabilities, has a campaign called #SouthLAGotGame with the goal to empower Angelinos with disabilities.

Special Needs Network collaborated with Toyota and KJLH radio to create a resource guide for residents in the Los Angeles County with special disabilities. On July 15, the organizations held a press conference and rally to release the resource guide.

“We want to leave something tangible in the hands of the community once the World Games were gone,” said Areva Martin, President and Founder of Special Needs Network. “We know if kids get the right interventions, they can grow up to be world class athletes that can compete in the World Games.”

Breanna Clark (left) and Irene Green (right) hold the torch from the 1992 Olympic Games. (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)

Breanna Clark (left) and Irene Green (right) hold the torch from the 1992 Olympic Games. (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)

The resource guide booklets come in both English and Spanish, the organizations will issue over 25,000 copies to LA County residents through World Games locations and community events until August 2, according to the Special Needs Network.

Venues for sporting events include Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, The Galen Center at USC, Luck Strike at LA Live, the Los Angeles Convention Center, Alamitos Beach and Belmont Pier in Long Beach, and other venues.

The guide gives residents help with housing, recreation, employment, education, and health. The guide contains over 200 resources, according to Martin.

“The resources more show the people that you can communicate [with] when parents have questions about their kids,” said Corey Harris, a Junior Behaviorist, and Special Needs Network.

Special Needs Network Youth Ambassadors also did a 5K awareness run on the day of the conference. While running, they carried the torch from the 1992 Olympic Games, according to Special Needs Network.

“It was really wonderful to be out here getting exercise early in the morning,” said Cheryl Green. Her daughter, Irene was one of the two torchbearers. Irene participates in cheerleading and track and field at Hollywood High, according to Cheryl. She appreciates the Martin’s efforts in raising autism awareness.

The organizations will provide over 25,000 resource guides to South Los Angeles, according to Special Needs Network. (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)

The organizations will provide over 25,000 resource guides to South Los Angeles, according to Special Needs Network. (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)

“She’s our family, she’s our extended family, we’re her extended family, and the organization is great,” said Cheryl. “We’re always a part of what they do we’re honored to be a part of different activities.”

ESPN and the Games Organizing Committee signed an agreement to have the sports network channel to do coverage of the sporting events, according to the Special Olympics website.

The Opening Ceremonies for the Special Olympics World Games will happen at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 25. Debbie Allen will direct the ceremony and special appearances will include First Lady Michelle Obama, Stevie Wonder, and Jimmy Kimmel.

Categories: Sports
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