Meaning Behind the Mascot

This week I wanted to take some time to discuss mascots. In sports we often refer to the mascot as a figure who represents the ultimate fan or symbol of a franchise. We all love Mr.Met, the Phillie Phanatic and Big Al the elephant from Alabama but what do they really stand for other than a sports icon? The truth is they are all just an image that plays into our favorite sports team, and there is nothing wrong with it! Mascots are a great way to add a little fictitious fun to a game and increase interaction with the fans. One thing that I absolutely love about the Paralympics is that their mascots go beyond appearance and incorporate real experiences into their characters. Below I have provided a little background story on the Sochi 2014 mascots Snowflake and Ray of Light.

The background for each of these characters is that both landed on Earth from two different planets. Throughout their journeys Snowflake and Ray of Light each encountered their own set of challenges that they had to overcome to get to where they wanted to be. Upon landing each found themselves in an unfamiliar place where they not only looked different but were accustomed to different ways of life. Ray of Light landed first and felt uncomfortable and distant from the others around him. After his initial fear subsided he slowly interacted with others and was able to make a lot of new friends who showed him about life on Earth. He soon realized that once he showed others who he was on the inside that he was not all that different after all. Ray of Light took Snowflake under his wing when she arrived and the two loved the new sports they were introduced to in their new home. To make their own mark, Ray of Light and Snowflake got creative and devised their own sports that they shared with the others.

Now some of you may have thought the above paragraph was childish but take a moment to think about the message that was sent. Two people managed to excel in an environment that was foreign to them and find a way to make an impact on the lives of other people. They demonstrated that everyone has their own innate talents that make them unique and contribute to their own success. While the journey to get to where they landed was difficult, they both managed to find a way to persevere and make the most out of their new opportunity. Part of this story focuses on the fact that we tend to judge or label people based on their appearance. Just because somebody does not look like us does not mean that they see anything differently than us or feel any less. The Paralympics are a perfect example of this message because while the athletes may have handicaps, they want to be treated just like everybody else. Each and every athlete has their own personal story about how they overcame the challenge they were dealt and managed to turn it into something extraordinary.

 

Enjoy the following video in honor of the Mascots !

By: Erika Schmid

50 Years Later

October 24 marked the 50 year anniversary of President Kennedy signing the first major piece of legislation for those with intellectual disabilities. A month or so back, I wrote a post on the fourth annual day held in the honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the president’s sister who was one of the chief advocates for the bill. If you recall (https://kathyscapping1.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/a-special-olympics-pioneer/), Shriver was the primary driving force behind the eventual creation of the Special Olympics Inc., in 1968. With that being said, what most people may not remember is the series of landmark events that led to the formation of the Special Olympics organization as a whole.

On October 24, 1963, the 35th president of our country signed a document titled the following: “The Maternal Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendment to the Social Security Act”. Little did people know at the time that this would serve as the first true stepping stone to the worldwide presence of the Special Olympics today. As stated earlier, it was the first piece of legislation that directly addressed mental retardation and mental illness. The legislation provided grants of money to various states in order for them to be able to upgrade their programs for those with intellectual disabilities. Just a week later, President Kennedy signed a second bill that provided funds to be used for the construction of facilities that were to serve the purpose of taking care of and ensuring fair treatment of people with intellectual disabilities.

Looking back, it is truly hard to believe how far the Special Olympics organization has come in just a half century’s worth of time. There have been a handful of posts up to this point where I have discussed the fact that the Special Olympics is now present in over 220 countries. Furthermore, the Special Olympics features more than 4.2 million athletes with intellectual disabilities worldwide. Those numbers alone should speak to not only how far it has come since 1963, but also to the long-standing impact of the pieces of legislation that were signed by President Kennedy.

http://www.specialolympics.org/Sections/What_We_Do/Out_of_the_Shadows__Events_Leading_to_the_Founding_of_Special_Olympics.aspx

-Joe Fitzhenry