"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." -Special Olympics Athlete Oath
Standing in Soldier Field in Chicago, 47 years ago, Eunice Shriver kicked off the first Special Olympics in history--1,000 people with intellectual disabilities from the U.S. and Canada competed in track & field, swimming and diving. Even though it was a small inaugural event, its historical impact--giving a platform to the civil rights struggles of people with disabilities that were so often overlooked-- was massive. The Games were meant to give children with cognitive disabilities, in Eunice’s words, “the chance to play, the chance to compete and the chance to grow.”
Ambitious, inclusive thinking like Eunice’s is contagious, and has inspired us to support this year’s Special Olympics World Games as part of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. Launched in May, this effort is focused on supporting the development of assistive technologies for people with disabilities around the world with $20 million in Google.org grants. This weekend, to mark the Games as well as the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark legislation that advanced the civil rights of people with disabilities when it was signed into law in 1990, we’re honoring the community in the following ways:
Google Doodle.We’ve created a homepage Doodle that shows a track inspired by the Special Olympics World Games’ "circle of inclusion,” featuring athletes of all backgrounds. In the spirit of getting moving, since we've heard from users that they love seeing doodles on the go, we're now starting to make them easier to see and share on our mobile search results in addition to desktop and the Google app.
Special Olympics World Games. Over the next nine days, the Special Olympics World Games will draw more than half a million spectators to cheer on 7,000 athletes from 177 countries in events from judo to powerlifting to kayaking and more. We’re powering the World Games’ social media nerve center, contributing as a financial supporter and are packing more than 300 Googlers into the stands.
Cheer an athlete. If you’re in Los Angeles, come visit us from July 25 until August 2 at the World Games Festival Space at USC’s Alumni Park to support the athletes. For those who can’t make it in person, you can visit g.co/WorldGames2015 to send a cheer to the athletes. Every day during the competition, we’ll decorate the dorm walls of the athletes with your cheers to encourage them to “be brave in the attempt.”
Painting the town. In Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, we’re marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. From men and women like Judy Heumann and Ed Roberts, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities, to President George H.W. Bush, who signed the ADA into law in 1990, we’re telling the stories of 10 great leaders who have fought -- and continue to fight -- for equal rights of people living with disabilities. We’ve installed massive portraits on the stairs of historic landmarks around the nation’s capital and in L.A.’s Grand Park.
Telling stories. We’re featuring the little-known history of a number of unsung heroes of the ADA movement at g.co/ADA. While people with disabilities benefit from their hard-won battles with every curb cut street corner and closed-caption film, their names are not widely known. We’d like to change that.