On the way to work today I was watching this TED talk. I’ve been watching a few recently, and this one had me sitting on a packed commuter train, with tears literally rolling down my cheeks. Matthew Williams (pictured below) competed for Canada at the Special Olympics last year.
He has an intellectual disability which marked him out as “special” from an early age and he explains what that felt like. He explains how getting into sport has helped him find friends, find a place in this world, get a job and improve his chances of a longer life. He also explains why the “r” word is so hateful and hurtful.
There are many things that moved me about this guy. Not least was the fact that he stood there for 15 minutes in a packed conference hall, without notes, and spoke eloquently and articulately about his experiences. If he was nervous, it didn’t show, and the standing ovation he received before the end was well deserved.
His description of a number of his opponents in the basketball final receiving hearing aids for the first time ever the day before the game was so moving, that’s what set my tears going.
44% of Americans claim they don’t know a single person with an intellectual disability (and I’ve not idea what the figures are for the UK): Matthew Williams showed how much they are missing out.