Remarks at International Day of People with Disabilities

Deputy Minister Asryan, Special Olympics National Director Israelyan, Special Olympics President Shahverdyan, other esteemed guests, and, most important, the young athletes, thank you all for being here today.

We are here because we believe, if you will bear with my Armenian, յուրաքանչյուր կյանք կարեւոր է – every life is important. Humans are all different. Some have physical disabilities.  Some live with mental illnesses. Some are tall, some short.  Some young, some are old.  Some need glasses…  We come in a variety of types.  But, in our hearts, each of us has the same strength.  We can all achieve our goals, regardless of the obstacles we have to overcome to get to our goal.  And that is the lesson of organizations like the Special Olympics.

It heartens me to see so many young athletes here today.  Today’s event is just one example of how Armenian society is advancing in its efforts to ensure full inclusion for all its citizens.  Today’s Armenia is a country with sports programs that include those with disabilities.  It is a nation working to provide educational opportunities for all children, regardless of ability or disability.  It is a land where the government and businesses are recognizing that all adults, those with disabilities and those without, can be valuable contributors to society.  Of course more needs to be done, more needs to be done in all countries, even in the U.S. But Armenia is on the right track.

So to the young athletes gathered here today, I have a special message.  For those of you with disabilities:  never forget that there is absolutely no obstacle that can keep you from achieving your dreams. And for those youngsters without a disability: remember that all kids have the same hopes, fears, dreams, and feelings, and you are making Armenia stronger by coming together in unity and in celebration of our differences.

Thank you.