Special Olympics highlighted the importance of development through sport in empowering some of the world’s most marginalized populations at the International Centre for Sport Security conference in New York City.
As part of the inaugural event in Times Square on the afternoon of 3 November, Special Olympics New York athletes played a demonstration event to showcase the power of the Special Olympics inclusive sports model, Unified Sports, while Special Olympics athlete leader Kester Edwards rallied the crowd to support athletes of all ability levels. “Unified Sports is for everyone of every age, ability and creed," said Edwards on the podium in Times Square.
The conference, sponsored by Qatar Airways, convened leaders from various industries to come together in promoting a deeper engagement from all sectors in making sport safer, and more accessible, for all participants.
Nils Kastberg, renowned development expert and Board Member for Special Olympics, Inc., participated in a high-level panel that spoke to the importance of ensuring a tangible return from Corporate Social Responsibility investments from the private sector. “Sport, in all of its forms, is a universal language that speaks to the entire global community,” said Nils Kastberg, sharing a panel with former Prime Minister of Greece, the Most Honorable George A. Papandreou, Edwin Moses from Laureaus World Sports Academy, and Baroness Grey Thompson from UK Active. “In Special Olympics, the athletes embody the purest form of sport: that of forging true inclusion, independent of big sponsorships and big contracts. For our athletes, sport has proven to be the most viable mechanism to shed the chains of exclusion, and replace them with unity, understanding, and progress.”
The ICSS conference served as a global example of the strong role that the athletes of Special Olympics are playing in bringing inclusive development through sport to communities throughout the world.