24Jul

#ShareTheJourney & Celebrate the Special Olympics World Games w/ Toyota

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As the mother of a special needs child, I have a strong awareness about how children are treated and perceived by society. When someone knocks him down, they knock me down, and I question why people don’t see him for who he is – which is basically a rock star. I’ve been hurt by other mothers who have excluded him from their children’s lives because he is different – not just once, countless times. Now that he’s older, some of this rejection is beginning to come from other children, and now it hurts both of us, not just me. I look forward to the day where he is accepted and included for who he is.

That’s why the Special Olympics is so important to me and so many other parents of special needs children. Since 1968, the event has celebrated athletes of all kinds and strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people. The 2015 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies kick off this Saturday, July 25 in Los Angeles! 7,000 athletes from over 177 countries will compete in this inspiring event, and my son and I will be watching.

In honor of this year’s Special Olympics World Games, a beautiful series of murals have been painted by artists as part of Toyota’s “Share the Journey” campaign.  These murals feature Special Olympics athletes and celebrate their joy and courage. Building on L.A.’s storied history of outdoor art, Toyota partnered with the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles to produce three murals inspired by the spirit of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. The murals have been completed in advance with the intent that they will remain in place as a cultural legacy commemorating the Games in the city of Los Angeles.

“The Greatest” features a large scale portrait of Muhammad Ali, who happens to be one of my childhood heroes. Combining lettering and calligraphy from multiple cultural traditions, Cryptik showcases his signature style to create the mural background. At a distance, the calligraphy forms a glittering background to the overall image. Along the lower half of Muhammad Ali’s portrait, are a series of plaques featuring Special Olympics athletes. Each plaque includes an  image as well as an inspirational quote from the athlete. Two additional plaques including inspirational quotes from Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The World Stage Legacy mural was created by artist David Flores as a celebration of the history of the Coliseum, the spirit of the Special Olympics, and the city & state of Los Angeles, California. The theme of inclusiveness embraces the idea of diversity, and thus the individuals depicted in the mural personify this theme and symbolize key aspects of the Coliseum’s history: Sport (the Olympic Games and football), politics, entertainment, technology, and social progress.

You can tune in to ESPN coverage of the Special Olympics World Games from July 25 through August 2.  You can also cheer on your hometown heros by clicking here and sharing on your social channels to support the Special Olympics World Games athletes.

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Toyota.

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Comments

  1. Kids are often horribly cruel and they learn it most of the time from their parents. It’s a sad fact. I always support the Special Olympics.

  2. These murals are awesome. It’s even more awesome that they are inspired by the Special Olympics and will live on as a reminder of the joy, courage and inclusion of the event.

  3. Agreed on all points. There is nothing in life that prepares you for the pain that results from the rejection of a child with special needs. Nothing. Thank heaven for Special Olympics. At this very moment, my son is sitting in the backseat, on his way to the airport to travel alone to New Hampshire to join a group who are hiking the Appalachian Trail. He has everything packed in his favorite Special Olympics duffel bag which he totes proudly. If it wasn’t for his participation in Special Olympics, I’m not sure he could have developed the physical prowess or the confidence he is now using to join a group of “regular” kids and walk his feet off.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your son and his (and yours) struggle with acceptance. I heard just last week from a mom – “It hurts so much for my kid to be the one not invited to things – ignored or even worse, bullied.” And when they get old enough to notice more, as you say, it’s heart-breaking. I am glad the Special Olympics is trying to do something about it – and honoring them.

  5. What Special Olympics does is amazing. I don’t know why people are so cruel to each other, and I’m sorry your son has to experience any of that. I love that Special Olympics celebrates diversity and individuality, and I support them however I can.

  6. Thank you Holly. Thank you Toyota. Thank you Special Olympics. Why do people have to be that way? My son has learning difficulties and mothers/children were cruel until we found the right school for him. Now that he’s on his own at college without any need for help life is good for MANY friends and a new life of passion and blessings. But I cannot forget what we endured with ignorant people when he was in public school.

    Thank you for writing this, Holly. I’ve always wanted to help out with Special Olympics but I guess it’s too late this year. I shouldn’t be so lazy about my wishes, eh?

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