Biography of Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, December 18, 2001 - 9:57 am: Edit Post

Biography of Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver

An indefatigable leader in the struggle to improve the lives of individuals with mental retardation, Eunice Kennedy Shriver has had a lasting impact on millions of children, adults and their families.

Her proudest accomplishment may have been the founding and operation of the Special Olympics, which became the largest program in the world for sports training and competition for the persons with mental retardation. A year-round program, the Special Olympics grew in scope to where it attracted nearly one million athletes from 130 countries who compete in about two-dozen sports while developing physical fitness and experiencing the joys of competition.

The fifth of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, one of whom was a person with mental retardation. Eunice Kennedy attended primary and secondary schools in England during her father's tenure as ambassador to the Court of St. James in the late 1930s. After studying at Manhattanville College, she transferred to Stanford University from which she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology in 1943.

During World War II, as an employee in the Special War Problems Division of the U.S. State Department, she assisted former American prisoners of war in becoming reoriented to civilian life. Then in 1953 she married Sargent Shriver and raised five children.

Eunice first became involved as an activist with persons with mental retardation when she was named executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation in 1953. Established by her father, the foundation was set up to serve as a source of operating funds for Catholic organizations and institutions for the persons with mental retardation such as the facility where her sister, Rosemary, lived. Under her leadership, the Foundation changed its primary focus to research into the prevention of mental retardation and awarded millions of dollars in grants for research for the affliction. As the executive vice president, she was instrumental in working for the passage of federal legislation to help combat retardation.

For years Eunice operated a day camp for children with mental retardation on a Maryland farm where she taught a gym class and thus came to realize that many of the children were good athletes. That experience led to her creation of the Special Olympics. She also established the Community of Caring program, which is designed to help prevent teen pregnancy and was a driving force in the creation of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University and a similar entity at Harvard University. U.S. News and World Report once said that Eunice's efforts on behalf of persons with mental retardation were a precursor to a greater national concern about the disabled in general. And, in a tribute to his sister, Senator Ted Kennedy said, "She has a way of making people exceed their reach."

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By Kitti Kat ( - on Tuesday, March 01, 2005 - 7:45 pm: Edit Post

Thankyou for the info!! It made my report a complete success!

By Anonymous ( on Thursday, March 02, 2006 - 6:12 pm: Edit Post

I heard on a television interview that Eunice Shriver established the Special Olympics and set up the Peace Corps. I have read that John Kennedy established the Peace Corps. What is accurate? Did John Kennedy get the idea for the Peace Corps and Eunice Shriver organize the program as it is today?

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