Cablegate: Special Olympics Policy Summit Convenes, Secretary Spellings

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R 220710Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (U) Summary. On October 3, U.S. Secretary for Education
Margaret Spellings, Shanghai and Central Government officials,
scholars from around the world and China, and famous
entertainment and political figures met in the Shanghai
Convention Center to convene the Special Olympics Global Policy
Summit on the Well-being of People with Intellectual
Disabilities. Chinese officials linked their support of the
Special Olympics with China's efforts to build a "harmonious
society." Academics described their research on the living
standards of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) and
people's attitudes toward individuals with ID. Their findings
reveal that people with ID are among the most marginalized in
society and that many false beliefs about people with ID are
still prevalent. Secretary Spellings highlighted that attitudes
towards people with ID, particularly in the field of education,
have made great strides. She also announced creation of a
center to help colleges and universities develop and expand
programs for students with intellectual disabilities. End

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In the Name of Love: Special Olympics in a Harmonious Society
--------------------------------------------- ----------------

2. (U) Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng noted that Shanghai was the
first city in China to develop a Special Olympics program.
Shanghai has over 70,000 people with intellectual disabilities
(ID) and more than 50,000 of them have joined the Special
Olympics program. Han explained that Shanghai's hosting of the
summer games is an important opportunity to promote the cause of
all disabled persons in Shanghai and encourage the community to
reach out to the disabled to help them live with love and

3. (U) Vice Premier Hui Liangyu said that the Special Olympics
program shows the international community's commitment to the
concept of harmony. That China is hosting the summer games, Hui
continued, demonstrates China's commitment to the promotion of a
harmonious society. Hui asserted that the Chinese Government
has already met the needs of its disabled citizens through its
laws and will use the summer games to raise awareness of
disabled persons' rights to new heights. The Special Olympics
program is one of "spreading sunshine," Hui said. "We are all
connected in the name of love." Hui reiterated China's
commitment to using the Special Olympics to build a harmonious
society. Hui said the Chinese Government will continue to
support the Special Olympics and he expressed his hope that the
summit "will achieve important results."

4. (U) Madame Tang Xiaoquan, Chairwoman of the China Disabled
Persons Federation (CDPF), said that of the 180 million people
with ID worldwide, 9.94 million live in China. She acknowledged
that while in the West, children with ID are often regarded as
"gifts from God," in China, they are too often seen as a source
of shame for the family. She said that in 2000, China made a
commitment to have 500,000 people participating in the Special
Olympics by 2005. At the end of 2006, there were over 600,000.
China's Special Olympics athletes now account for 25 percent of
all Special Olympics athletes worldwide. China has, however,
set a new goal: by 2010, one million Chinese citizens will
participate in Special Olympics events.

5. (U) These Special Olympics athletes, Tang said, make great
contributions to social harmony. As part of its effort to build
a harmonious society, China is committed to supporting Special
Olympics. Tang noted that many localities have included support
for the Special Olympics directly in their 10th and 11th five
year programs (FYP). Tang said that under the leadership of
Deng Pufang -- the paraplegic son of former paramount leader
Deng Xiaoping and President of the Federation who was also
present at the event -- the CDPF has "achieved important
results" and will achieve greater still. In accordance with the
national 11th FYP, 100,000 children with intellectual
disabilities and 50,000 parents, will receive rehabilitation
training and financial assistance by 2010.

6. (U) Shanghai Vice Mayor Zhou Taitong said that of
Shanghai's population of 70,000 with ID, 12,000 left school
before the age of 16 and have returned to live at home. In an
effort to alleviate the burdens this has placed on their
families, Shanghai has established the "Sunshine Homes" program.
Through Sunshine Homes, people with ID receive technical
training, learn independent living skills, and get access to
rehabilitation services. Zhou said that establishing health
care and pension systems for these people is critical. So is
making them employable in order to help answer the question of
what will happen to these individuals when their parents pass

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--------------------------------------------- --
Secretary Spellings: Educating Children with ID

--------------------------------------------- --

7. (U) During her keynote address to the Summit, Secretary
Spellings noted the positive contribution Special Olympics makes
to the lives of people with ID through celebrating mutual
respect and the joy of sports. She highlighted great changes in
the U.S. Government perspective in terms of education for people
with ID. No longer is the question "can children with ID learn"
but "how can we make sure people with ID succeed in school
alongside their peers." Policymakers and educators now have the
responsibility to educate all children. They must take on the
policy of inclusion and ensure that children with ID are

8. (U) Secretary Spellings cited two "landmark laws" governing
the education of children with ID in the United States: the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which ensures
students with disabilities have access to free and appropriate
education and allows educators to customize plans for individual
children; and the No Child Left Behind Act, which holds schools
accountable for measuring the progress of all children,
including those with ID. Secretary Spellings said that the
latest national education report card confirms that America's
schools are getting better.

9. (U) Secretary Spellings also announced that the Department
of Education is putting up USD 1.5 million to create a center to
help colleges and universities develop and expand programs for
students with intellectual disabilities. The idea behind the
program is to allow people with ID to enjoy meaningful and
rewarding college educations and adult lives.

Measuring the Challenge

10. (U) University of Chicago Professor Glenn Fujiura
discussed his research on the U.S.'s ID population. Fujiura has
developed an index, measuring access to education, employment,
income level, and other quality of life issues, for people with
ID. Using the general population as the baseline, he found that
people with disabilities other than ID scored close to 75
percent, while those with ID scored only close to 40 percent,
making them more marginalized than most.

11. (U) Senior Vice President of Special Olympics
International Stephen Corbin and Vice Dean of the Shanghai
Academy of Social Sciences School for Social Development Studies
Yang Xiong jointly presented their findings on global
perceptions of people with ID. They surveyed 9,000 adults in 12
countries and 16,000 youth in eight countries. According to
their survey results, around the world adults:

-- underestimate the competence of people with ID;

-- believe that people with ID should live, work, and learn in
separate settings than other people;

-- recognize that the lack of services is a major obstacle to
the inclusion of people with ID into mainstream society.

The results of the survey among youth found that they:

-- also underestimate the competence of people with ID;

-- have limited contact with people with ID;

-- are unwilling to interact with students with ID as peers; but

-- are willing to have them in the same classrooms.

12. (U) Dr. Yang then focused on the China-specific survey
results. The two men surveyed 4,064 junior high school students
in 47 schools. They found that of those polled:

-- 86 percent believe students with ID can make friends with
students who do not have ID;

-- 65 percent believe that students with ID can participate in
athletic competition;

-- 53 percent believe that students with ID can talk to students
without ID about classroom assignments;

SHANGHAI 00000677 003.2 OF 003

-- 44 percent believe that students with ID can handle their own

-- 43 percent believe that students with ID can use technology
like cell phones and computers;

-- 37 percent believe that students with ID can act
appropriately with new people;

-- 32 percent believe that students with ID can be accommodated
in normal schools. This was 20 percentage points higher than
Chinese adults.

13. (U) When Chinese youth were asked about what they would be
willing to do with a student with ID:

-- 87 percent said they would say hello;

-- 78 percent said they would talk with them;

-- 63 percent said they would play with them outside of school;

-- 61 percent said they would choose them for a team in gym

-- 45 percent said they would talk with them about homework;

--.44 percent said they would be willing to work with a person
with ID on an assignment for a grade.

The survey also found that 80 percent of China's youth want to
learn more about Special Olympics and 74 percent want to learn
more about ID.

14. (U) This message was cleared by the Secretary's delegation.

© Scoop Media

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