The Special Olympics Movement originated in the USA in 1968, founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy. Shriver's vision was to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities and provide hope, both for them and their caregivers, through the power of sports and the Olympic ideals.
Today, Special Olympics has expanded its reach to more than 200 countries worldwide, engaging over 5.7 million athletes.
In Iran, Special Olympics was established in 2000 by Professor Asghar Dadkhah, a clinical psychologist with a deep commitment to serving individuals with intellectual disabilities. Since the early 1990s, Professor Dadkhah had been visiting and studying patients with special needs, focusing on areas such as psycho-rehabilitation, emotion regulation, and body consciousness. He also explored the Japanese psychological rehabilitation approach, known as Dohsa-hou, to improve both physical and mental well-being.
Recognizing his expertise and dedication, Eunice Shriver enlisted Professor Dadkhah's support in developing the Special Olympics program in Iran. Thanks to his efforts, a lasting legacy of support for Special Olympics has been established throughout the country.