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Committed to Inclusion

LCIF-Special Olympics

A Steadfast Partnership


The Lions Clubs International Foundation-Special Olympics Opening Eyes Program began 2001. Since then, LCIF has awarded more than US$27 million to Special Olympics for activities that include Opening Eyes, Family Health Forums, Healthy Hearing, Special Smiles and inclusive sports. Lions volunteer at these events, including our Leos. Leos, young people committed to serving others, are integral to this partnership- volunteering as partners in Unified Sports as well as supporting events alongside Lions. Find out more about how Leos are making a difference around the world through the Leo club program.


Real Impact: By the Numbers


Over the years, LCIF and Special Olympics have proudly partnered to create tremendous impact worldwide and achieve multiple successes, including:


Special Olympics athletes have received free vision screenings through LCIF's and Special Olympics' Opening Eyes program


Special Olympics athletes have received free prescription eyeglasses at Opening Eyes events


Lions have volunteered with Special Olympics since 2000


Eye care professionals have volunteered their services


Active nations of “Mission Inclusion” platform worldwide


Families provided with family health education through the LCIF-support Family Health Forum model


Community leaders trained through the LCIF-supported Special Olympics Leadership Academy


Creation of Champion Lions Clubs, providing direct support to Special Olympics organizations worldwide

Interactive Global Map: LCIF-Special Olympics Impact around the World

Engaging Leos

in Botswana

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Six Leos joined 10 athletes and four university students in attending a first aid course led by Red Cross Botswana. The inclusive training was the first formal training for athletes and was inspired by Special Olympics Botswana athlete Bright Shadi, who became the first certified first aid volunteer within Special Olympics.

Opening Eyes

in Guatemala

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Studies show that 4 in 10 Special Olympics athletes in Latin America have never had an eye exam. In response to this need, Special Olympics Guatemala organized an Opening Eyes screening during which 51 athletes received eye exams and eyeglass prescriptions. The event was possible thanks to support from the Guatemala Utatlán Lions Club, Utatlán Leo Club and the Visión Integral medical team.

Family Health Forums

in India

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West Bengal hosted a Family Health Forum highlighting feminine hygiene and menstruation – a first for India. The forum, attended by 98 parents, 10 athletes and 8 Lions, educated parents on this ‘taboo’ issue in an effort to keep young women participating in sport and attending school throughout the month. In addition, Leos across India were activated in an inclusive youth leadership meeting attended by Past International Director Aruna Oswal as well as LCIF and Special Olympics India representatives.

Reaching Refugees

in Thailand

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Special Olympics Thailand became the first program from the Asia Pacific region to begin programming within a refugee camp. Through support from LCIF, Special Olympics trained 28 coaches based in two camps on the Myanmar border. Training will be followed by implementation of sports training to learners at special needs schools within the camps.

Educating Families

in Russia

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A Family Health Forum was held in Ekaritenburg, Russia. The second half of the forum focused on medical issues and was opened by the representative of the Lions Club Anas Alfaraj. Leading medical professionals from Yekaterinburg led the session, which addressed diabetes, nutrition and motor development in athletes with profound disabilities.

OSEAL Leo Forum

in Cambodia

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Special Olympics Cambodia was thrilled to participate in the OSEAL Leo Forum in Cambodia. Fun activities including football and tug of war were arranged to connect the Leos with Special Olympics athletes.

Engaging Refugees

in Cyprus

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Through support of LCIF, Special Olympics Cyprus ran a year-long project integrating 52 refugees from Kofinou Reception Centre with 145 Special Olympics athletes through Unified Sports. Activities concluded with a 3v3 Unified Basketball tournament, which received support from the Cyprus Basketball Federation.

National Games

in Mauritius

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Special Olympics Mauritius held its National Games at the end of November and was grateful for the full support of their partner, the Lions Club Curepipe. Many Lions participated in the Opening Ceremony’s parade, handed medals to athletes during the awards ceremonies and volunteered at the Opening Eyes screening, which ran parallel with the games.

Diabetes Awareness

in South Africa

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Special Olympics South Africa used its provincial floor hockey tournament as an opportunity raise athletes’ awareness of the growing risk of diabetes. To do this, they leaned on their strong partnership with Lions and had the Bryanston Champions Cyber Lions Club join forces with other Lions clubs to provide diabetes education and testing to athletes during the tournament.

Strengthening the Partnership

in Jamaica

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Special Olympics Jamaica continues its strong relationship with Lions and Leos. At a Unified Football and Healthy Athletes screening event, Leos served as volunteers and unified partners, Lions as non-clinical volunteers at the Opening Eyes screening. In addition, Jamaica hosted a floorball training for all Caribbean Program leaders.

Tackling Diabetes

in eSwatini

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167 family members flocked to attend the Family Health Forum hosted by Special Olympics eSwatini at the end. The event was held over 2 days to comply with COVID restrictions which limited the daily size of public gatherings. The forum covered health promotion topics including diabetes which was addressed by local Lions. Unfortunately the diabetes screening that they had hoped to implement was cancelled due to COVID restrictions.

Opening Eyes

in Zambia

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Special Olympics Zambia hosted an Opening Eyes screening for 80 athletes, complementing the event with a Healthy Hearing screening and training. This was the first of two in-person Opening Eyes events completed with COVID precautions in place, demonstrating how screenings might be carried out where restrictions allow.

Virtual Events

in Romania

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Special Olympics Romania has sustained its strong relationship with Lions during lockdown, implementing virtual activities; activating 18 Leos through two online Unified Sports coach seminars; and creating and distributing video coaching materials to all Leo Club coordinators in Bucharest, Bacau and Deva.


Activation in Japan

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With the experience of the Unified bocce at the International Lions Convention still fresh in their minds, Special Olympics Nippon were delighted to have the opportunity to stage a Unified bocce event with Lions at the OSEAL Forum in Hokkaido. International President Gudrun as well as a number of Past International Presidents and Lions Executives took to the floor to roll bocce balls with the athletes.