Many people confuse the two: Paralympic and Special Olympics. As mentioned in a previous blog post, the Special Olympics were originally created by Eunice Kennedy Shriver who passed away last year. The origin of the Paralympics, however, can be credited to German neurosurgeon Sir Ludwig Guttman. For Eunice Kennedy Shriver, she “recognized that sport is a universal language, one that unites people both on, and off, the field of play, and she challenged everyone to rethink their attitude towards individuals with intellectual disabilities” (from Special Olympics BC). Unlike Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Sir Ludwig Guttman had a vision that resonates with Mrs. Shriver’s. While working at a spinal cord injury unit near London where Sir Ludwig Guttman treated many war veterans, he recognized the therapeutic values of sports to help treat many disabled war veterans. Additionally, sports helped build both strength and self-respect. The sport events that Sir Ludwig Guttman organized for the war veterans soon grew into competitions, and eventually evolved into todays Paralympic games – a showcase of some of the world’s most capable athletes living with a disability. It’s amazing what obstacles one can overcome simply when one’s abilities are encouraged!
Paralympic and Special Olympic Games