The Coca-Cola Company’s global headquarters in Atlanta and iconic sign in London’s Piccadilly Circus are turning red – not to celebrate its flagship brand, but as part of a worldwide display of unity commemorating the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics.
More than 170 landmarks around the world – from Niagara Falls in the U.S. and Canada, to the Sydney Opera House in Australia – will participate in the Light Up for Inclusion initiative, creating a global display of tolerance, respect and celebration of difference. See the full list here.
The top 15 floors of the company’s North Avenue tower will be bathed in red light through tonight, and a special animation on London’s Coke’s Piccadilly Circus sign is paying tribute to Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary and the brand’s role as a founding partner of Special Olympics International.
The movement signals the start of the Inclusion Revolution: Special Olympics’ mission to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities (ID) worldwide and create inclusive communities.
Light Up for Inclusion is part of the the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration taking place this week in Chicago, where Special Olympics athletes, coaches, supporters and celebrities from around the world will commemorate 50 years of joy, courage and empowerment. The first International Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Chicago’s Soldier Field in July 1968.
Mary Davis, Special Olympics International CEO, said Light Up for Inclusion symbolizes the continuation and evolution of Special Olympics’ mission. “As we charge into the next 50 years with a renewed purpose of ending discrimination, we are encouraging people across the globe to join us and help create a fully inclusive world,” she said.
Francesca Aguilar, global sponsorships manager, Coca-Cola, added, “This is a testament to the power of Special Olympics and how we can all work together to inspire a culture of inclusion where everyone recognizes the value people with intellectual disabilities bring to the workplace, communities and society. Special Olympics has done a great job in educating the world about its mission, and now we will continue to do our part to inspire and take action in the next 50 years.”
Coca-Cola renewed its commitment to fostering inclusion and understanding this year by employing a pair of individuals with intellectual disabilities to support its role in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, which took place earlier this month in Seattle. Matthew Wynne worked with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, and Marcia Barret supported Coca-Cola Swire. The company also hired Daniel Barich as a 2018 Special Olympics Storytelling Intern to bring the Games to life on Coca-Cola Journey and social media.
“Coca-Cola’s shared values with Special Olympics are inclusion, optimism and moments of happiness, and as a founding partner, it’s crucial that we embrace individuals with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of our partnership and work,” said Becki Cedrone, director, community marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “We must break the paradigm and think differently when filling positions. Individuals with intellectual disabilities should be given more opportunities.”
The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games will take place in Abu Dhabi in March. More than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes representing over 170 countries will compete.