UNICEF mourns death of Special Olympics founder

13 August 2009
Ann Veneman (left) with Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics

The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has mourned the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics, paying tribute to her dedication to giving hope and opportunities to children around the world living with disabilities.

“While the world has lost a great visionary and leader, Mrs. Shriver’s legacy lives on through her strength, determination and the organization she founded, Special Olympics,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.

Mrs. Shriver, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 88, was a “tireless advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, a determined champion of children and a true friend and partner to UNICEF,” the agency’s head stated yesterday.

The Special Olympics founder believed that all people deserved the chance to reach their full potential, Ms. Veneman said, expressing UNICEF’s condolences to her family and friends.

The agency “honors her long-lasting contribution as a true global ambassador of change in helping end discrimination one child, one community, one country at a time,” she added.

In a related development, a South African disabilities expert has been appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development for 2009-2011.

Shuaib Chalklen has experience working closely with UN entities, including the World Bank, as well as with donor countries in Europe and other regions, to promote the rights of people with disabilities in the global arena.

His mandate is to monitor the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly in 1993, and to advance the status of those with disabilities throughout the world.

Mr. Chalklen will be the third person to hold the post, following Bengt Lindqvist of Sweden and Sheikha Hessa Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani of Qatar.


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