With a new exhibit, the Smithsonian Institution is highlighting how athletics have helped to dramatically change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities over the last 50 years.
The display “Special Olympics at 50” was unveiled this month at the National Museum of American History in Washington just as the international sporting movement is celebrating a half-century.
“Founded at a time when people with intellectual disabilities (ID) were often institutionalized or hidden away, Special Olympics changed attitudes about the abilities and talents of children and adults with ID — giving them the chance to train their bodies, build confidence, meet new people and share skills through sports,” the Smithsonian said.
Located in the museum’s “of note case,” the exhibit showcases how Eunice Kennedy Shriver evolved a backyard camp for young people with intellectual disabilities into Special Olympics, which hosted its first international games in 1968 in Chicago.
The Smithsonian display also features the stories of four well-known Special Olympics athletes — Marty Sheets, Ricardo Thornton, Loretta Claiborne and Lee Dockins — with a pennant, jersey, medal and other mementos from the athletes’ experiences at various games over the decades.
In addition, visitors can engage with the exhibit by jumping between agility lines and see the height of the uneven parallel bars, Smithsonian officials said.
The Special Olympics display will be on view through June 2019.
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