CA1 – USA
Berlin is an emblematic global capital that represents so much to the global community: unity, reconciliation, innovation, diversity and so much more.
In June 2023, Berlin represented yet another remarkable achievement: host to the largest sporting and humanitarian event of the year: the Special Olympics World Games.
Bringing together over 7,000 athletes, 20,000+ volunteers and hundreds of thousands of spectators, guests, supporters and more, the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Berlin highlighted the unifying nature of sport and the thrill that comes from training and competing on the global stage.
As the city and the world watched the various competitions in over 20 Olympic-type sports – including football, basketball, and powerlifting- the Games played host to a range of non-sporting events, from health clinics to youth leadership training to global policy development and refugee support. In addition to sport, the Games highlighted the way in which the movement of Special Olympics partners with some of the strongest, most impactful and global organizations in the world.
Chief among these global organizations is Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and the International Association of Lions Clubs.
Across so much of this mega-sporting event, LCIF and Lions clubs volunteers shared their generous time and talents to enrich the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities – and the larger community. Leos from nations around the world joined Special Olympics Unified Partners in architecting community-based inclusion projects. Lions Clubs of Germany volunteers supported athletes to receive eye health and vision care screenings. Lions Clubs International Director Barbara Grewe participated in policy forums to promote the strong support given to refugees on the move. Lions Clubs International Foundation Chairperson Douglas Alexander spoke one of the highest-level convenings in the history of the Special Olympics movement to officially launch a Global Coalition for Inclusion.
There’s more. Lions Clubs volunteers from around Germany have hosted athletes in their home communities through the Special Olympics Host Town Programme, providing individuals with intellectual disabilities a cross-cultural experience that will create memories for a lifetime.
Around the world, LCIF brings hope, dignity and power to those most in need – including the global population of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Through the generous support of the foundation, and through the long-standing civic responsibility shown by individual Lions and Leo volunteers, athletes from near and far can not only give it their all on the field in Berlin – they can also connect with, volunteer with, and join Lions Clubs leaders in their local communities back home.
The Special Olympics World Games in Berlin will send a message of solidarity and unity to the world. Together, beyond the field and into classrooms, clinics and community centers worldwide, Special Olympics and LCIF are unifying service and inclusion for a world eager to turn the page on division and welcome a unified era.
The movement of Special Olympics joins LCIF in a world of service to create communities of welcome and inclusion for all: one service project at a time!