This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
Thousands of mourners gathered Friday
on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for the funeral of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She started
the Special Olympics for athletes with mental disabilities. She died Tuesday at
the age of eighty-eight.
Vice President Joe Biden was
among guests at the funeral. The service included a Special Olympics torch
carried by Special Olympians.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the
sister of President John Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy. Her surviving
brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, is fighting brain cancer and did not attend the
But what she will be remembered
for most is her activism that grew out of the struggles of her mentally
retarded sister, Rosemary, who died four years ago.
The first Special Olympics took
place in Chicago, Illinois. About one thousand athletes competed in nineteen
sixty-eight. Today, more than three million train in one hundred fifty
countries. The next World Summer Games are in Athens in two thousand eleven.
When Eunice Kennedy Shriver began
her work, the disabled -- her sister included -- often spent most of their
lives in hospitals or other institutions.
In the nineteen seventies, she
worked for passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. That law guaranteed
free and appropriate schooling for the estimated one million children at that
time who were not receiving an education.
In nineteen eighty-four she received
the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER: "Let
us not forget that we have miles to go to overturn the prejudice and oppression
facing the world’s one hundred eighty million citizens with intellectual
In the last two years, more than
one hundred forty countries have signed a United Nations treaty, the Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. President Obama signed it last month.
But there are still "miles to go."
Andrew Imparato heads the American
Association of People with Disabilities. He says the biggest challenge is jobs
-- the disabled have the lowest employment rate of any minority group in the country.
He says they are often the ones earning
the least, and most at risk of losing their jobs in the recession. Also, he
says reforms are needed so disabled people do not lose certain health assistance
by taking a job.
More than forty million Americans
have some level of disability. An estimated seven and a half million have an
In nineteen ninety Congress
passed the Americans With Disabilities Act. It requires equal treatment in employment,
government services, transportation and public places like hotels.
Doris Ray is a director of the ENDependence
Center of Northern Virginia. She says another important effort is a bill
proposed this year in Congress: the Community Choice Act.
Currently most federal assistance
for long-term care pays for services provided in nursing homes. The proposed
law aims to expand community-based services for those who want to receive
long-term care at home.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by
Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.