NEW YORK (July 16, 2015) – Special Olympics and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF are proud to announce the appointment of 16-year-old Lucy Meyer as the spokesperson for a special partnership between Special Olympics and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help generate visibility and raise resources for programs that benefit children with disabilities around the world.
In her new 2-year-long role, Lucy will be speaking at major events across the United States, spreading awareness and raising critical funds in support of collaborative UNICEF and Special Olympics programs in countries such as Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Belize and Brazil. These programs range from providing opportunities for sports training and competition to children with disabilities, to educating parents and caregivers on what health and social services are available in their communities.
Lucy’s new position is an expansion of her ongoing efforts to advocate on behalf of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities globally. Over the past three years, Lucy has taken her message on behalf of the global community of children with disabilities to audiences in her home-state of California, in New York at the United Nations and in Washington, D.C. She has presented to the President of the United States, international diplomats and has met directly with U.S. Senators and Representatives to share her personal story, urge ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and discuss other issues related to disability rights. She was named the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Spokesperson for Children with Disabilities in 2013, and a 2015 Special Olympics World Games Global Messenger.
“I am honored to be the spokesperson for the partnership between the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Special Olympics,” said Lucy Meyer. “I am excited to work with the partnership to raise awareness, change attitudes and provide opportunities to children with disabilities around the world. I want all children to have the same opportunities in health, education and sports that I have had. Acceptance and inclusion for children with disabilities should not depend upon where you are born, but should be a right for all the world's children.”
Born with cerebral palsy, Lucy is passionate about helping children around the world with disabilities. A swimmer, she is an active Special Olympics athlete and past gold medal winner, representing Team Southern California at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games in Princeton, New Jersey.
Lucy’s involvement with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF began in 2011, when she began Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF. In January 2013, she established a fund to support children with disabilities in developing countries. To date, she has helped raise more than $250,000 for UNICEF’s programs benefiting children with disabilities through her website, http://www.unicefusa.org/donate/lucymeyer.
“Lucy is sharing an essential message—that all children have hopes and dreams, and all children deserve a fair chance to make their dreams become a reality,” said Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “We’re proud to work with Lucy and grateful she’s lending her powerful voice to help ensure that all children, including those with disabilities, can reach their full potential.”
"Lucy is what we call a true game changer for inclusion. Through her efforts and hard work, she is ensuring that worldwide, children with disabilities are getting the same opportunities to compete in sports, receive healthcare and be part of their communities, “ said Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics. "We congratulate Lucy, a gold medal-winning Special Olympics athlete, in being selected for this new role where she will help change perceptions and create opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.”
According to UNICEF’s 2013 State of the World’s Children Report, an estimated 93 million children under the age of 15 have a disability globally. Across the developing world, children with disabilities are often invisible. They are excluded from school, hidden by their families, and abandoned by their governments. They are denied access to education, health care, and other lifesaving services, and they face discrimination, prejudice, and abuse on a daily basis. Children with disabilities are three to four times more likely to be victims of violence, and in many countries, they are significantly more likely to experience abuse at home.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. 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 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than 1.4 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 94,000 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.