By Cora Sherlock
Ireland’s culture of protecting and encouraging every human being received another boost this week with the annual collection in favour of the Special Olympics.
This event, which is widely advertised and keenly anticipated, is a reminder of the excellent culture of equality and inclusion that Ireland’s Eighth Amendment has helped to foster. The Special Olympics holds a very special place in the heart of men and women in Ireland.
The organization in charge of running the event has become one of the largest and most successful voluntary organizations in the country, with over 9000 athletes and an incredible network of 25000 volunteers who help on the day itself and in many different ways both before and afterwards.
It’s easy to discount the effect that the Eighth Amendment has had on this kind of work. The reality however, is that people with special needs are given particular encouragement in Ireland, and that encouragement starts at the very beginning. It starts in the womb.
Children in Ireland are protected by the law regardless of their ability or disability, whether sick or healthy, rich or poor. It’s only with this kind of protection from the beginning that the parents of children who have special needs can make the best start on a journey to find out how they can foster their children’s different talents.