Hello, my name is Matthew Williams.
And I am a champion.
I have won medals in three different sports and national games in Canada,
competed at the international level in basketball,
and was proud to represent Canada on the world stage.
I train five days a week
for basketball and speed skating,
work with top quality coaches
and mental performance consultants
to be at my best in my sport.
By the way,
all that is through Special Olympics.
Does that change the way you think of me
and my accomplishments?
The world does not see all people like me as champions.
Not long ago,
people like me were shunned and hidden away.
There’s been lots of change
since Special Olympics began in 1968.
But in too many cases,
people with intellectual disabilities
are invisible to the wider population.
People use the R-word in front of me
and they think it doesn’t matter.
That’s the word “retard” or “retarded”
used in a derogatory manner.
They are not thinking about how much it hurts me
and my friends.
I don’t want you to think I am here
because I am a charity case.
I am here
because there’s still a big problem with the way
many people see individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Or too often,
how they don’t see them at all.
Did you know the World Games happened this year?
I was one of over 6,500 athletes with intellectual disabilities
from 165 countries who competed in LA.
There was over 62,000 spectators watching opening ceremonies
And there was live coverage on TSN and ESPN.
Did you even know that happened?
What do you think of when you see someone like me?
I am here today
to challenge you to look at us as equals.
Special Olympics transforms
the self-identity of athleteswith intellectual disabilities
and perceptions of everyone watching.
For those of you who aren’t familiar,
Special Olympics is for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics is separate from Paralympics and Olympics.
We are for high quality year-rounds sports programs
for people with intellectual disabilities
that changes lives and perceptions.
This movement has changed my life
and those of so many others.
And it has changed the way the world sees
people with intellectual disabilities.
I was born with epilepsy and intellectual disability.
Growing up, I played hockey until I was 12 years old.
The older I got, the more I thought
it was harder to keep up with everyone else.
And I was angry and frustrated.
For a while, I did not play any sports,
didn’t have many friends,
and felt left out and sad.
There was a time when people with intellectual disabilities
were hidden away from society.
No one thought they could participate in sports,
let alone be a valued member of society.
And in 1960s, Dr. Frank Hayden,
a scientist at the University of Toronto,
was studying the effects of regular exercise
on the fitness levels of children with intellectual disabilities.
Using rigorous scientific research,
Dr. Hayden and other researchers came to the conclusion
that it was simply the lack of opportunity to participate
that cause their fitness levels to suffer.
Lots of people doubted that people with intellectual disabilities
could benefit from fitness programs and sports competition opportunities.
But pioneers like Dr. Hayden
and Eunice Kennedy Shriver,
the founder of Special Olympics persevered.
And Special Olympics athletes
have proved them right 4,500,000 times over.
Before I joined Special Olympics I was nervous,
因为我年轻 害羞 没自信
because I was young, shy, not confident,
and didn’t have many friends.
When I got there though,
everyone was very encouraging, supportive,
and let me be myself without being judged.
现在 我是一名篮球运动员 以及竞速滑冰运动员
Now, I am a basketball player and speed skater
who has competed at provincial, national games,
and this year,
made it all the way to the World Summer Games in LA,
where I was part of the first ever Canadian basketball team
to compete at World Games.
I am one of more than 4,500,000 athletes around the globe.
And I’ve heard so many similar stories.
Being Special Olympics athletes restores our pride and dignity.
Special Olympics also addresses critical health needs.
研究表明 平均来看 智力缺陷的男人
Studies have shown that on average man with intellectual disabilities
die 13 years younger than man without.
And woman with intellectual disabilities
die 20 years younger than woman without.
Special Olympics keeps us healthy
by getting us active and participating in sport.
Also, our coaches teach us about nutrition and health.
Special Olympics also provides free health screening for athletes
who have difficulty in communicating with their doctor or accessing health care.
or accessing health care.
At the 2015 World Summer Games,
my team Canada teammates and I played Nigeria basketball team.
The day before our game,
the Nigeria basketball team went to
the World Games’ Healthy Athletes Screening
where 7 of 10 members were given hearing aids for free,
and got to hear clearly for the first time.
The change in them was amazing.
They were more excited,
happy and confident,
cause their coach could vocally communicate with them.
And they were emotional,
cause they could hear the sounds of the basketball,
the sounds of the whistle
and the cheering fans in the stands,
sounds that we take for granted.
Special Olympics is transforming more than just the athlete in their sport.
Special Olympics is transforming their lives off the field.
This year, research finding showed
that nearly half of the adults in the U.S.
don’t know a single person with intellectual disability.
And 44% of Americans
who don’t have personal contact with intellectual disabilities
are significantly less accepting and positive.
Then there’s the R-word.
Proving that people with intellectual disabilities
are still invisible to far too many people.
人们用这个词 要么随口说说 要么骂人
People use it as a casual term or an insult.
It was tweeted more than 9,000,000 times last year.
And it is deeply hurtful to me
and my 4,500,00 fellow athletes around the planet.
People don’t think it’s insulting.
But it is.
As my fellow athlete and global messenger,
John Franklin Stephens wrote in an open letter
to a political pundit who use the R-word as an insult.
“Come and join us someday at Special Olympics.
See if you walk away with your heart unchanged.”
This year at the 2015 World Summer Games,
people lined up for hours
to get into the final night of the power-lifting competition,
so with standing room only, when my teammate Jacky Barron,
the Newfoundland Moose,
deadlifted 655 pounds
and lifted 611 pounds in the squat.
Setting huge new records for Special Olympics.
Jacky is a record holder among all powerlifters in Newfoundland,
not just Special Olympics, all powerlifters.
Jacky was a huge star in LA.
And ESPN live tweeted his record breaking lifts
and were wowed by his performance.
50 years ago,
few imagined individuals with intellectual disabilities
could do anything like that.
This year, 60,000 spectators
filled the famous LA Memorial Coliseum
to watch the opening ceremonies of World Games,
and cheer athletes from 165 countries around the world.
Far from been hidden away,
we were cheered and celebrated.
Special Olympics teaches athletes
to be confident and proud of themselves.
Special Olympics teaches the world
that people with intellectual disabilities deserve respect and inclusion.
现在 我的运动生涯里 有梦想也有成就
Now, I have dreams and achievements in my sport
respect and dignity,
and I’m pursuing a career as a personal trainer.
I am no longer hidden, bullied.
And I am here doing a TED talk.
[applause & cheer]
The world is a different place because of Special Olympics.
But there is still farther to go.
So the next time you see someone with an intellectual disability,
I hope you’ll see their ability.
The next time someone uses the R-word near you,
I hope you’ll tell them how much it hurts.
I hope you’ll think about getting involved with Special Olympics.
I would like to leave you with one final thought.
Nelson Mandela said,
“Sports has the power to change the world.”
Special Olympics is changing the world
by transforming 4,500,000 athletes
and giving us a place to be confident,
meet friends, not be judged
and get to feel like, and be champions.
Thank you very much.