tv The Kennedy Who Changed the World BBC News December 27, 2019 1:30pm-2:01pm GMT
now on bbc news one of our highlights of 2019. clare balding presents the story of how a woman from one of america's most famous families, changed the world through sport. bill clinton, nicole scherzinger and members of the kennedy clan reveal howjfk's sister eunice was inspired by a tragedy in her own family to overcome ignorance and prejudice. some of the words that people used to use was "moan", "idiotic", "horrible". "you're different", and "you're odd". walking through the neighbourhood and he actually shouted out, "hey,
i didn't know you was a retard," and started pelting orange behind me. i've been called "tracker", which isn't very nice at all. people used to tell me i'm not going to achieve. and they would call me a past—it and everything like that and i would always feel lonely. once people know you have a disability, you become the lowest thing in society. they are the world's most innocent victims and they suffer only because they are different. the world said that people with intellectual problems should
not be seen in public. tonight, you are part of the year's largest sporting event and the world is watching. if you seekjoy, come see the special olympics. she took people with intellectual disabilities and brought them out of institutions and gave them and their families hope. eunice kennedy shriver is royalty as far as i'm concerned. the days of separation and segregation are over. what nation you come from doesn't matter, we don't care. the plan was laid early in my mother's life, to be fierce, determined, to some extent, angry. your age, your size, we don't care. she had this great shock of hair, you know, and she would just stare at you, just stare a hole
at you and just was pushing her cause. go home and tell your countrymen, "i am a champion athlete!" this is sport at its least cynical. this is pure, unadulterated sport. 30 years ago, the world said, "you are unable to run 100 metres." today, you run the marathon. i think she is one of the few people that changed the world. the special olympics world games is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. every two years, thousands gather to compete. and almost every day, in almost every country, there's a special olympics event. 5 million athletes with intellectual or learning
disabilities are involved. but 50 years ago, these people were ignored and institutionalised. it took a woman from america's most powerful family to change that. a woman in a man's world. this is the story of how eunice kennedy shriver, inspired by her sister's struggles, defying her powerful father, confronting prejudice and ignorance, used sport to change lives. that was our royal family, the kennedys, that's exactly what they were.
eunice kennedy was born in 1921, the fifth of nine children. arriving into a family whose fame was growing all the time. in the early part of the 20th century, a family of nine growing up in boston with prominent parents, very competitive environment, challenged to do the best, to be at the front lines of everything. she was a fighter from the get—go, fighting to be seen, fighting to be acknowledged, fighting for her space. but amongst the smiles and the sport, there was a secret. my mother's sister was intellectually disabled, rosemary, but she could see that rosemary could do a lot of things. they loved their sister, rosemary, but they could see the world didn't love their sister. and it's in this victorian workhouse atmosphere that some 2,000 people with damaged and inadequate brains
work out their lives. in the middle of the 20th century, those with learning disabilities were invisible. come on, peter, someone to see you. warehoused, hidden, infanticide, forced sterilisation, shame, ignominy, the supreme court of the united states ruling that they should be sterilised against their will. many of them, if they were lucky, they had a family, but there were so many medical problems that they usually died very early. my grandpa re nts' life, with all the privileges and supports and opportunities that they had, still, they found nothing for rosemary. they tried to make her into a kennedy, you know?
they tried to pretend that she wasn't special because even though the kennedys had money and power, there wasn't really any good place to put rosemary back then. she was a victim just like everybody else. and, finally, the father, joseph kennedy, decided on this terrible medical procedure. at the age of 23, rosemary had a lobotomy. joseph kennedy didn't tell the rest of the family. surgeons drilled into rosemary's brain to try and fix her. the operation was a disaster. which left rosemary more incapacitated. she really wasn't incapacitated before. she could kind of like "pass" in society. after the operation, rosemary was sent away to a home for those with intellectual disabilities in wisconsin. the rest of the family moved onwards and upwards, but eunice couldn't forget her sister.
i think, of all the members of the family, it really, really, really affected eunice, that there was anger about it, there was remorse, and there was some amount of guilt and that's where she started directing her energies. i, fellow citizens of the world, ask not what america will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. when her brother was elected president, my mother saw an opening
and she drove a truck through it. she wanted to change the laws so that people with special needs eunice persuaded jfk to set up a panel into what was then called "mental retardation". its advice was turned into the first us legislation for people with intellectual disabilities. a month after he signed the act into law, jfk was assassinated. during this period, eunice also decided to expose the family's secret, bringing rosemary's story out into the open for the first time and, later, making sure she was a regular visitor to the shriver family home until her death in 2005.
i think when anybody wants to tell a story that some people in your family don't want you to tell, i think that requires bravery, it requires courage. she ran things for developmental disability which her father was trying to... interviewer: brush it under the carpet? yeah, and what did she do? she blasted it out. how did she pull that off? then she invited hundreds of children out of institutions and into her own back yard for sporting summer camps. i think she saw sport as a way to get these people out of the basement. camp shriver was the experiment, was the foundation, for special olympics. mommy was proving, in our back yard, that people with intellectual disabilities could compete, could run, could swim, could play archery, could ride horses. if you can go to camp shriver and imagine in1962, special olympics seemed to come along at the perfect time. it was 1968. you could make a case that 1968
was the most eventful year in american history. soldier field, the site of many great sports events, is preparing for the more than 200 separate activities to take place there. track—and—field, swimming, basketball, football, hockey, and not one of these events is out of the reach of a retarded child who has been given a little help in learning how. who has been told, "you can do it." the olympic torch is carried down the track by a proud young runner. it was bright and sunny and 95 degrees. it was awful, actually, in terms of the heat. you felt like you were in the oven, but it was beautiful. in ancient rome, the gladiators went into the arena with these words on their lips, "let me win, but if i cannot win, "let me be brave in the attempt." my mom stood here 50 years ago and proclaimed to the world that the world would never be the same again.
by the 1980s, special olympics world games were drawing big crowds and big names. tonight, we open the largest sport event in the world this year. one of the things eunice was able to do was enlist celebrities to the cause. you can make fun of that, but that's what you need to do. eunice, she is just such a bad mamba jamba! shejust was. she knew what she was doing and knew that people of profile and celebrities of certain stature had that voice to really help be the voice of the people who didn't have it and people who are misunderstood. that meant continually pushing her cause at the white house, regardless of who was president. ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states of america, bill clinton.
she was the classic example of a tiny group of people that we identified when i was president and they were called the "just—say—yes" people. in other words, they came at you, you are going to do what they wanted to do. so, you might as well save yourself a lot of time and trouble and just go on and say, "yes." that's what eunice was. you know, she was so intense. but it was loving, you know? it wasn't, like, irritable, it was loving. you knew that she was right. you knew she was trying to get you to do something that's right. butjust a little straighter. see, my leg is way out like that? then i go up and down. well into her 80s, with 100,000 special olympics events a year worldwide, still eunice refused to slow down. she kept pushing. she felt the sting of being trivialised, and treated as doing
work that didn't matter, her whole life. it infuriated her. it didn't stop her. no question about it. that the rage, you know, she went to her grave with that... eunice died in 2009. special olympics athletes at her funeral tossed their medals into her grave. i used to always think, "gosh, i want to be one of your special "children. " and that's the way she always thought of special olympics athletes. they were her sixth child and they were her extended family.
without their founder, the games go on. they've been to china, japan, korea, greece, and back stateside to los angeles in 2015. the next world games take place in abu dhabi. this time with 7,000 athletes from more than 170 countries. you get, like, a breeze through your face, it feels like you're flying and you're having a fantastic time. one of the athletes is kiera byland. i just struggled to understand writing... ..reading, numbers, telling the time. which i still struggle to today. so, show me where 100g is.
there. can you see that? mm—hm. so, put some carrots in and try and weigh out 100g. let's put that on there. i'd put kiera in the category of the invisible child. you can't see kiera's impairment and then people say, "well, what's wrong with her?" and i say, "there's nothing wrong with her, "it'sjust that she has many autism traits. " two threes, two twos, two fives, two sixes and then, all of a sudden, your favourite bit of the race, six, seven, eight, nine. mm—hm, yeah. are you going to try that? yeah. people don't believe it. or, if you've got a child who has got a learning disability, you'll go through that period where you don't want to believe it yourself. and then, certainly, don't want to tell anybody else about it because... ..will that have an impact on them in life? i really struggled making friends. i didn't really quite understand, at that point, why. so, i used to, like, cry. i used to cry myself
asleep, actually. kiera's one passion was to make a friend and have friends. so, i thought i was worthless and that i did something wrong. i didn't know how to handle it, so i did used to hit myself. thinking, "0h, that'll make it all better." when i started to find food in her room, and she'd hidden it, and ate it, i was really worried. and then she would literally hit herself, and smack herself. and say, "i'm useless, i'm rubbish." and that upsets me now. because ijust think, "i should have taken that away, "that's what mums do." so, it still upsets me now. at her lowest point, kiera sought refuge in sport. first, swimming, and then, cycling. i think kiera found something that she was good at. it's given me confidence. it's given me the chance to believe in myself and that i'm
actually worth something. kiera was great britain's most successful competitor at the last world summer games in los angeles, winning three gold medals. that was... that was it, i suppose. seeing her on the podium then. and you can't help but think back to all the bad times. and you think, "wow, we got through all that lot "and look at this, this is payback." you know. so, it's great. i actually use the sport to help me feel better. and, also, my friends are there because they want to be there, they like cycling. and that helps me, as well. kiera is hoping to match her medal haul this time around. i'm, hopefully, going to win three golds, because i know that i managed that last time in la. but, hopefully, i can try. they were taking me down here,
and, although i hated myself for it, i thought, "i need to take a picture of this." and then i turned to the mother and said, "could you please unlock him?" so, she did. he was totally nonverbal. i noticed that they had, basically, treated him like a thing. translation: because he was mentally sick, that's why he was tied up. he was shouting, fighting people and biting them. i have a wound myself after he bit me. he could fight people laughing at him. so, i showed it to our president, tim shriver, and he immediately felt we had to do something. it makes your... ..whole body shudder... ..to see a child with a locked chain on his ankle.
intellectual disability is associated with bad omens, with taboo, and other bad things. so, a person with intellectual disability is generally discriminated and there are places where a person with an intellectual disability is not allowed even to step in. we engaged special olympics tanzania to come from dar es salaam to the refugee camp, 1,800km, quite a distance. "we never want to see that child again in that chain "and so we have come," they said to her, "to bring new hope to you, "to your family and to your son." he speaks his own language special olympics now runs weekly competitions in the refugee camp, bringing out those with intellectual
disabilities out of the shadows. so far, we have recruited well over 200 athletes in the camp who are normally doing, you know, football, athletics and other sports. one of them is malaki. his feet free from chains, he's been chosen to compete at the world summer games. translation: i was very happy with their trust in me for the games in abu dhabi. life has changed since they came to pick me up. now, things are ok.
translation: he is very happy. something changed. what made him happy is that he was given clothes and a ball. that made him happy. oh, it's amazing, it's amazing. this is something that they had never imagined would happen. and quite a lot of attitudes have been changed and persons with intellectual disabilities are being accepted. 18 months after he freed him, nils and malaki were reunited. hey! he speaks malaki's language wow! well, for me, it was a very emotionally strong experience to, again, see malaki so much better. now, he is starting to become verbal.
clearly, his life has completely changed. but, much more than the change in him, you could see how his mother doesn't see him, now, as a problem but sees him as her son. when president mandela said that freedom consists of breaking the chains, it's not a metaphor. sometimes the chains are chains. and, sometimes, the urgency is that acute. we need to break a chain that's holding a child. it's a reminder of how important this work is and how much hope the world still needs when it comes to those who are different.
special olympics has helped me develop confidence. it helped me a lot to be a happy guy throughout the year. and i don't feel sad any more. eunice: the whole world is watching you. look how far you've come. applause hello. you will be doing well to see much of any sunshine over the next few days. for most of us, it will be cloudy but mild. today, the cloud is low across the west, so we do have
some mist and hill fog patches around, some drizzle, too. on the satellite picture, some breaks coming into sussex and london, where there has been some brighter spells, thatis there has been some brighter spells, that is about as bright as it gets today. outbreaks of rain pushing instruments, damp and drizzly in scotland, there will also be the risk of some drizzle around western coast in hills. stays mild for most of us. overnight, we will stay cloudy. outbreaks of rain pushing back across scotland for a time, we will start to see the weather turn murky into the hills of northern england, so they cambrian fells, the pennines, and across england, we will see murky conditions spreading further eastwards as well. a mild night and start to the day on saturday, with winter coming from a long way south. we have a weather front into the north—west, bringing the risk of further outbreaks of rain. the wettest weather will a lwa ys rain. the wettest weather will always be in western scotland, particularly for the highlands and western isles, the rainfall totals
tending to mount up. otherwise, away from the north—west corner, we're looking at a cloudy day coming up with breaks few and far between. some could see some sunshine poking through, temperatures on the mild side, 10—12. for the second half of the weekend, if anything, it could get milder. we are dredging up particularly mild air from the subtropics and moving into the north of scotland. into the north—east of the country, we could see some particularly mild weather, although it will be mild nationwide for all of us, with temperatures reaching double figures. a lot of cloud, but there could be some breaks in the cloud from time to time. the temperatures are most significant. in aberdeen at this time of year, we would expect to see temperatures of six, to 15 celsius on sunday is remarkable. the last few days of this year, it tends to cool down across the north, you could knock 3-4 across the north, you could knock 3—4 of this temperatures. as the weather gets cooler, there should be
more sunshine generally going into monday and tuesday, which is new year's eve. in the evening, it should stay mostly dry, could be some fog patches developing later in the night, but essentially for most of us, the weather should not cause any problems for those new year's eve celebrations. it before then, it will stay cloudy but mild for the next few days.
this is bbc news — i'm joanna gosling. the headlines at two: at least 12 people are killed, after a plane crashes in kazakhstan — dozens of survivors, including children, are being treated in hospital. everyone started screaming, kids are crying. and the lights were on in the plane... but there was no, like, sound. lady hale, who is about to retire as the president of the uk supreme court, voices concern about the effect of the reduction in resources on the justice system in england and wales. free hospital parking in england for some patients and visitors from april — but questions are raised over how it will be funded. the national trust says climate change has led to an increase