Dedicated to helping the disadvantaged

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-10-02 10:30

Shanghai - President Hu Jintao called on the whole society to carry forward humanitarian and traditional virtues and to respect, care and help the disabled population during an inspection tour of Shanghai Monday.

Addressing teachers at Sunshine House, a special healthcare and training center established for mentally disabled people in the city's Hongkou District, Hu said the society should respect and thank the teachers as they "bring hope and happiness to the disabled and their families with their love and dedication". The president encouraged the center to help more disabled people to integrate into the society and contribute to social harmony.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) visits the Sunshine House, a special healthcare and training center established for mentally disabled people, in Hongkou District, Shanghai, October 1, 2007. [Xinhua]

The president also played games with some of the athletes participating in the Special Olympics.

China is committed to the Special Olympics movement and dedicated to helping its citizens with intellectual disabilities, a top official of the Special Olympics said yesterday.

"We believe that China is sincere in its efforts to improve the treatment of people with intellectual disabilities, committed to changing attitudes, and willing to give resources necessary to open schools, healthcare facilities and support them in different programs over the next decade," Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, said on the sidelines of an interaction activity organized by Coca-Cola.

"This is the beginning and this is the movement. We firmly believe that China is committed to the movement, not just the event..." Shriver said. He is the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who is the founder and matriarch of the Special Olympics movement.

An international non-profit organization, the Special Olympics is dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition.

In China, efforts are being made by Special Olympics China - and the government and society as well - to grant more care, respect and assistance to mentally disadvantaged people.

Shriver said that regular sports activities are needed to for a sustainable physical training of this underprivileged group.

"Physical training everyday (is needed), in particular unifying training to bring non-disabled people to play with people with intellectual disabilities, so that we get friendships, teammate relationships and shared understandings," he said.

"It is not about just giving them sympathy, but rather about unlocking the potential to be friends, employees and committed parts of the community."

Over the long run, Shriver said more volunteers are needed in venues such as special schools and orphanages, and more "Sunshine Homes" and community-based centers are needed where sports, arts and employment skills can be provided to mentally disadvantaged people everyday.

He also spoke favorably of companies that have been involved in causes for underprivileged people.

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