Na Kyung-won is a former member of the National Assembly who led the winning bid to host the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Korea. She serves as the Chairperson and CEO of the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics Games Organizing Committee and the Chairperson for Special Olympics Korea. Chairperson Na’s determination to bring the Special Olympics in Korea first aroused back in 2009 when she had the chance to visit the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho. There, she began to think that, in relation to its economic power, Korea was providing too little support for people who were intellectually challenged, therefore, we needed an incident that can significantly affect people’s perception towards social minorities. Also, she believed that opportunities in sports could lead to better opportunities for people with disabilities in general society and the excellent performance of the athletes at the Special Olympics will drive reforms in the education and employment of people with disabilities as well as breaking prejudices surrounding disabled people.
The Special Olympics distinguishes itself from the Paralympics. They are similar in a way that they both focus on sports for athletes with disabilities, however, the Paralympics invites athletes who have physical impairments, while the Special Olympics invites athletes with intellectual disabilities, including autism. Moreover, instead of awarding only gold, silver and bronze medals, ribbons are awarded all the way down to 8th place, so that all the participating athletes of the Special Olympics are congratulated on their achievements. The 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics are the biggest Special Winter Olympics by far and will take place from 29th of January to 5th of February in Pyeongchang and Gangneung, Korea.
On today’s Heart to Heart, we’ve invited Chairperson Na Kyung-won of the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games Organizing Committee to talk about the significance of the Special Olympics in today's world.