BEIJING, Sept. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- Special Olympics today announced the appointment of Ms. Yang Lan, one of China's most prominent media entrepreneurs, talk show host and chairperson of Sun Culture Foundation, as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador. The celebration took place at Haidian Special School in Beijing on September 24 to mark the second annual global Eunice Kennedy Shriver (EKS) Day in honor of the spirit and legacy of Special Olympics' late founder.
"As a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics I will focus on two things," said Yang Lan. "The first is to bring more support and encouragement to the millions of families in China and around the world who have family members with intellectual disabilities. The second is to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion in our society so people with disabilities will be more active and visible in Chinese society and around the world. This benefits and strengthens entire communities, not only those with intellectual disabilities," she said.
Yang's connection with Special Olympics began in 2006 when the city of Shanghai was preparing to host the 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games. "I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Mrs. Shriver and I was so touched by her genuine smile when I saw her with the Special Olympics athletes; it was very heartwarming," said Yang. "I also hosted a forum for families from around the world where they shared their extraordinary stories of love, and the courage that these kids have as they are out there competing - and winning. My emotional connection with Special Olympics started then."
Dr. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, extended his warm congratulations and welcome to Yang Lan's appointment. "There is no one I would feel more proud to entrust with this important task. As a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics, we believe you can lead us in the 21st century, a century filled with expectations and opportunities, hope and potential. Yang Lan, we welcome you to this great Movement and look forward to working closely with you, and your foundation, to promote inclusion, joy and acceptance in China and around the world."
Yang today also announced the launch of the Special Olympics Outstanding Volunteer Talent Plan, a new initiative that will see Yang's Sun Culture Foundation partnering with Special Olympics to develop a culture and spirit of volunteerism among China's young people. The program will recruit students from Chinese universities, offer them volunteer training and encourage them to volunteer for 50 hours or more each year for Special Olympics activities in their communities. Participating universities will oversee the volunteers and track their hours of service. One hundred outstanding volunteers will be chosen by Special Olympics East Asia (SOEA) and the Sun Culture Foundation to receive a scholarship of RMB 2000. The pilot phase of the initiative will begin in Beijing and will be extended to more Chinese cities in the future. Demonstrating early enthusiasm for the program, today's event was attended by 70 students from five universities in Beijing including Tsinghua University, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing Sports University, Capital University of Physical Education and Sports and Beijing Union University.
Since its founding in 1968, Special Olympics has received the generous support of many outstanding leaders in the fields of sports, politics, entertainment, culture and business. Global Ambassadors from China include Ms. Yang Lan, basketball star Yao Ming and renowned actress Zhang Ziyi.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world and in the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood's backyard. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship.
About Special Olympics China
Special Olympics China was founded on June 17, 1985 and joined Special Olympics International on July 6 the same year. Special Olympics China has been affiliated with the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF) since 1998. Currently, China has more than 9.84 million people with intellectual disabilities and more than 1 million of them are registered Special Olympics athletes that are actively engaged in dozens of training and competition events. Since 1987, China has been sending delegations to attend the biennial Special Olympics World Summer Games and Special Olympics World Winter Games. In October 2007, Shanghai hosted the 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games, which attracted more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from around the world. To date, China has become the world's fastest-growing country that is actively engaged in the Special Olympics field.
About Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day is an annual celebration of her life and a global call challenging everyone to "play unified to live unified" because she taught us that on the playing field, we forget about our differences and recognize our mutual humanity. On EKS Day, we invite you to join us in playing unified and teaching the world to live unified. As founder and honorary chairperson of Special Olympics and executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a leader in the worldwide struggle to improve and enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities for more than five decades. Eunice Kennedy Shriver's actions helped open the minds of all people to the gifts and talents of individuals with intellectual disabilities. She believed in their possibilities, which fuel hope in all of us to make a difference. Eunice Kennedy Shriver demonstrated an unrelenting indomitable spirit in action that one person could make a difference and change the world. Her lasting legacy must be our continued commitment to improve and transform the lives of the 200 million people worldwide with intellectual disabilities who still live with diminished opportunities and social disrespect, and are often neglected and hidden away. Visit www.eksday.org and www.eunicekennedyshriver.org to learn more.
About Sun Culture Foundation
Established in Hong Kong in 2005 by China's renowned media couple, Dr. Wu Zheng and Ms. Yang Lan, the Sun Culture Foundation is a non-profit public welfare charity organization. To promote a culture of philanthropy, the foundation holds various charity activities in an "organization-to-organization" mode, particularly in developing access to and improving quality of education as well as alleviating poverty. Sun Culture Foundation's work is dedicated to promoting civil exchange to raise cultural awareness in the arts, media, sports, social science research, environmental protection and academia as related to civil society development. The foundation is committed to engaging at-risk teenage populations through education, sports and the arts.
SOURCE Special Olympics China