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