NEW YORK, March 3, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While international relations remains a top agenda item for political leaders and threats to our global stability continue to trouble the minds of people worldwide, leading global non-profit organizations will meet with United Nations (UN) diplomats Saturday March 4th to discuss how partnerships between international NGOs can help promote inclusion around the world.
Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Shriver will address more than 800 participants from 36 countries including the world's largest service organization—Lions International, UN diplomats and Special Olympics athletes at the General Assembly Hall as part of the 39th Annual Lions Day with the UN. Topics of discussion will include the Lions International global efforts to aid refugees and various international youth programs.
"Today's youth are not bound by yesterday's traditions. They are hungry for change, and together, Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International can offer them the chance to serve their community, and chart their own futures in service," said Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, the global sports movement for people with intellectual disabilities, which is gearing up for the World Winter Games in Austria next month. The Games will run from March 14-25, 2017. Special Olympics currently has over 5.3 million Special Olympics athletes in 169 countries around the world.
Shriver, who is a charter member of the Washington D.C. Special Olympics Lions Club, has worked to expand Special Olympics internationally through large-scale World Games every two years and by beginning programs in many developing or war-torn countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The participants will also hear from Special Olympics athlete Mina Fernan Bahgat. 25-year-old Bahgat fled the Middle East with his mother and younger brother seven years ago. The family sought, and were granted, refugee asylum status in the Netherlands. Since then Bahgat has gone on to achieve much against the odds and is preparing to compete in his first global sports competition at the World Winter Games in Austria. He is one of 2,700 athletes set to compete at the Games and will represent Special Olympics Team Netherlands in speed skating, capping off a remarkable journey for his family.
The ongoing effort to aid refugees from war-torn countries will be a main topic of a panel discussion during the March 4th event. Contributors on the day will include: Mina Bahgat, his brother Michael Bahgat, Tulin Tanrikut—the UN representative and Minister of Interior and the Minister of Foreign Affairs from Turkey and who has worked with refugees for two decades, and Deborah Herlan who organized a national activity to support more than 2,500 refugees throughout Germany.
"The Lions/Special Olympics collaboration and the important work we do hold a special place in the hearts of Lions volunteers. Collaboration between global NGOs is making great progress to promote inclusion throughout the world," said Lions International President Chancellor Bob Corlew, who spent the past year traveling the globe talking with Lions volunteers about the future of volunteerism as the organization marks its 100th anniversary.
Since 2001, Lions International and Special Olympics have collaborated in the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes Program. Funded by Lions Clubs International Foundation, the program screens the vision of athletes at select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide and teaches vision specialists how to care for this underserved population.
Lions International is the largest service club organization in the world with 1.4 million members in more than 46,000 clubs providing humanitarian service in 210 countries. For more information visit lionsclubs.org.
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners in 169 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics, fb.com/specialolympics, youtube.com/specialolympicshq, instagram.com/specialolympics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.
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SOURCE Lions Clubs International