Breaking Down Barriers in Jamaica
One unique way that LCIF improves local communities is through its partnership with Special Olympics. Opening Eyes provides vision screenings and glasses to people with intellectual disabilities, and “Mission: Inclusion” provides leadership opportunities for athletes, community acceptance and health services.
The Leos of Jamaica have actively engaged and included Special Olympics athletes into local service projects to expand their reach. As part of the “Invite an Athlete” initiative, the Leos of Jamaica are helping break down the barriers of discrimination and stigma, offering instead empowerment and unity.
Through their leadership and vision, the Leos have helped transform the perception of athletes from objects of service into agents of service. What was once a population targeted for simple charity has, through Leo engagement, become a population whose willingness to serve is equally valued on a local and national stage.
Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International continue working to show that individuals with intellectual disabilities have core talents and abilities that they long to offer to their communities. Both on and off the playing field, Special Olympics athletes and Leos continue to team up to create social inclusion, one clean beach, one basketball game at a time.
“Leos have the chance, not to change the world when they get older, but to change the world now. And it’s as simple as playing a game and showing someone who otherwise would be excluded that they belong. It’s a very big, powerful gift. – Tim Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics