When families come together to participate in a Special Olympics event, they come to celebrate their athletes. For more than 12 years, Lions Clubs International Foundation has partnered with Special Olympics through the Opening Eyes program to provide vision screenings and glasses for athletes at these events. Now, as a recent initiative of LCIF and Special Olympics, Family Health Forums help to further create a sense of community among participants. At these events, families are shown how to improve living conditions for athletes and provide better access to health care, education, social services and inclusion.
Family Health Forums began in 2011 in select communities in Africa. In October 2012, South Africa hosted the first ever Regional Family Health Forum, which brought together families with Special Olympic athletes from five countries in Africa. Here is what some of the parents had to say:
“It was excellent for me as a mother who has a child with intellectual disability. I have learned a lot, especially sharing problems with other mothers in different places. Thanks for giving my child this opportunity,” said one parent in response to the forum.
“It’s a way of changing the lives of people with intellectual disability and it makes us aware that nothing is impossible with people who have intellectual disability,” said another parent at the event.