September 23, 2013

For the 9th Year Tom Golisano is Major Underwriter of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

Ann Costello speaking at a podium at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

Clinton Global Initiative logoThis year, Tom Golisano’s focus will be on the progress made since he announced a landmark $12 million gift to Special Olympics last year to launch Healthy Communities. Ann Costello will open a session Tuesday, September 24 with Malawi President Banda and Special Olympics International CEO Tim Shriver on Empowering the World’s Billion People with Disabilities. Tom Golisano will host a Topic Dinner on People with Disabilities and the Global Development Agenda.

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Finding an Invisible People

Op-ed piece by Tim Shriver, chairman and CEO, Special Olympics, published by The Huffington Post, September 24, 2013

What do international health organizations that immunize children throughout Africa, Europe’s system of “socialized” medicine, and the United States’ Medicaid programs have in common? While all well-intentioned efforts, they routinely fail to reach one of the most severely under-served populations found in every community and every country in the world — people with intellectual disabilities.

Their hearts are in the right place, but NGOs with school-based programs don’t reach those children in developing countries who are barred from attending school. If doctors in Europe lack the training to treat the needs of certain patients, then their systems of health care are not truly universal. And U.S. reimbursement programs fail to fill gaps if they don’t allow for the extra time it may take to treat someone with a disability. Continue reading

President Joyce Banda Announces Convening of First-Ever African Leaders Forum on Intellectual Disability in Malawi in February 2014

President Banda Makes Formal Commitment at Clinton Global Initiative to Collaborate with African Heads of State to Develop an Inclusive Africa

Tim Shriver speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

Her Excellency, President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi, a vocal champion of the rights and protections of those with intellectual disabilities, announced today that she will host the first-ever African Leaders Forum on Intellectual Disability in partnership with Special Olympics in February 2014 in Lilongwe, Malawi.  The commitment is a result of her participation at the Global Development Summit at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Korea.   President Banda made the official announcement at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, on a panel shared by Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy P. Shriver.  Prior to the panel at CGI, President Banda met briefly with Dr. Shriver, as well as CGI Founding Sponsor Tom Golisano, whose Golisano Foundation supports the Special Olympics global health initiative Healthy Communities, active throughout Malawi.  The meeting served as an opportunity to share recent highlights and future plans for the initiative in Malawi and throughout the continent.

“Malawi has approximately 400,000 people with intellectual disabilities.  In many cultures throughout Africa, stereotypes, entrenched stigma and misunderstandings about intellectual disabilities exist and the effects are devastating, with many people with disabilities experiencing severe social isolation and suffering from neglect, abuse and violence,” said President  Banda.  “It is our moral obligation to turn the tide from intolerance and inaction to foster understanding and make real commitments to influence change.  I look forward to engaging my nation, Malawi, and indeed the entire continent, to join me in developing a results-driven, inclusive approach to improving the plight of our children and adults with intellectual disabilities.”

In support of the Malawian National Disability Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), President Banda will work in partnership with Special Olympics, civil society and  key development organizations, to encourage all African countries to integrate people with intellectual disabilities  fully into their communities, and  into development strategies pursued by African governmental, development and civil society organizations.

To begin the transformation within Malawi, the Malawian government has committed to forming a national partnership with Special Olympics Malawi. Special Olympics Malawi currently supports more than 5000 athletes and welcomes the support from government.

“President Banda has shown a strong commitment in the leadership of developing an inclusive Africa.  In her first 100 days in office, she passed the Malawi Disability Act, mandating in law the rights of people with intellectual disabilities,” said Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics.  “ The creation of the first-ever African Leaders Forum on Intellectual Disability is a critical next step in advocating for change at the highest level and ensuring the more than 90% of children with intellectual disabilities in Africa and the developing world aren’t denied the right to education and other services.”

The two-day forum will call upon Heads of State, national governments, development organizations, scholars and industry leaders from throughout Africa to join Malawi in achieving full social integration of children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  The forum is designed to foster interaction and collaboration between these leaders and key stakeholders from civil society, development agencies  and business organizations to identify best practices – in the areas of sports, health, education, early childhood development and public awareness – that can be implemented and brought to scale at the local and national levels.  Four high-level deliverables expected from the forum include:

  1. Securing commitment for the creation of an influential coalition of African government and development leaders committed to measurable progress in advancing the rights and protections of those with intellectual disabilities as part of the post 2015 Millenium Development Goal (MDG) framework;
  2. Creating a replicable public awareness campaign that fosters increased understanding and acceptance of individuals with intellectual disabilities in Malawi, while generating significant awaress throughout Africa and among key development actors, funders and stakeholders on the needs of those with intellectual disabilities;
  3. Highlighting the recent UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report, focused on children with disabilities, and exploring solutions to address the challenges facing Africa’s most vulnerable children;
  4. Stimulate the creation of new Special Olympics programs to support individuals with intellectual disabilities through sports, health and education programming.

President Banda added, “I chose to make this announcement at this year’s CGI Annual Meeting, where the theme is ‘Mobilizing for Impact,’ where world leaders are convening to explore strategies to determine how to best mobilize the right entities to create sustainable success in their organizations and environments.  I’m mobilizing our African leaders to foster interaction and identify best practices in helping to both eliminate stigma and empower people with disabilities to live healthy and productive lives.”

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