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Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Never underestimate the power of a sibling’s devotion.
It is no exaggeration to note that special education and other services for people with disabilities in the United States--and indeed the world--would not be the same had it not been for the efforts of the five remarkable siblings of Rosemary Kennedy: Eunice, Jack, Bobby, Jean, and Teddy.
Rosemary Kennedy--who was born with an intellectual disability--died at age 86 in January of 2005. At Rosemary’s funeral, her sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver said:
“After Rosemary moved to Wisconsin, Mother and Dad and all of my brothers and sisters wondered how we could support her, but what we didn’t realize is that she would begin a lifetime of supporting us.
“We talked about Joe Jr.’s Foundation (the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation) and agreed to focus it on persons with special needs.”
“Jack (President John F. Kennedy) launched the great federal efforts—NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development), The President’s Council on Mental Retardation (now The President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities), and The University Affiliated Centers (now University Centers on Disabilities).
“Bobby (Senator Robert F. Kennedy) worked to close Willowbrook.
“Teddy (Senator Edward M. Kennedy) spent 40 years changing the laws of the land. Libraries, schools, clinics, and treatments were created.
“Very Special Arts was born (by Jean Kennedy Smith).
“Special Olympics (created by Eunice Kennedy Shriver) came into being.
“Rosie’s spirit even inspired the third generation of Kennedys with Best Buddies. We all honored her, supported her, and did what we could.”
Every day--in every state, province and country—millions of brothers and sisters do what needs to be done to give their siblings who have disabilities a dignified life. Their devotion and their efforts will never be as well-known as the Kennedy siblings’ but their accomplishments are every bit as remarkable.
We salute you, sisters and brothers, for all you do!
Sibling Support Project
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