EYES ON THE PRIZE: Optometrist Dr. Paul Berman recognized a gap in the vision care offered to people with intellectual disabilities, and led the creation of Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes.

Their extraordinary effortsare fulfilling the goals,  values and missionof Special Olympics Health: inclusive health care, wellness and fitness forpeople with intellectual disabilities. These recipients have changed universitycurricula to include training for providers for people with intellectualdisabilities, provided free of charge health screenings and delivery of crucialfollow-up care, and started mobile clinics in rural areas where there were nohealth facilities. One example of the many positive health changes beingrealized through Healthy Communities is Joyce, a young girl who lives inUganda. Joyce couldn’t walk or stand properly. Her family tried to straightenthe bones in her legs by digging a hole in the ground and packing her in itwith soil. Joyce would stand in the hole every day for up to six hours. Thiswas the only therapy the town knew to try and fix Joyce’s legs. Volunteers fromthe Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) came to Joyce’s village andtaught Special Olympics coaches and family members physical therapy techniquesthat would help her. Now Joyce can run, play, write, read and attend schoolwith the other children in her village.

From Joyce to millions of others around the world, Special Olympics is creating an inclusive world for people with disabilities. Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Over the past 20 years, the game has changed for people with intellectual disabilities, thanks to the thoughtful and committed Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Dr. Steven Perlman, Dr. Paul Berman, Tim Shriver, Tom Golisano, Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation, and all the dedicated clinician, partners and volunteers. Access to health care for people with intellectual disabilities is dramatically changing thanks to Special Olympics and its partners. Where did it all start? Rosemary Kennedy’s second opinion.•

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Corkett is manager, External Health Communications, with Special Olympics International.