Shriver, Eunice

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation

For encouragement of national legislation to improve the care of the intellectually disabled, and effective dedication to their cause.

Undaunted by public apathy and ignorance, Mrs. Shriver has, in the last few years, focused public attention on the problem of the intellectually disabled, and has accomplished a revolution in research on the causes of intellectual disability, the care of the intellectually disabled, and the acceptance of the intellectually disabled by family and community.

At her suggestion in 1962, John Fitzgerald Kennedy appointed a president’s panel to study the plight of the intellectually disabled and to give the nation a set of recommendations to bring these unfortunates out of the dark shadows of apathy and neglect. Mrs. Shriver was a tireless consultant to this panel.

As a result of her urging and efforts, Congress in 1963 enacted two monumental pieces of legislation aimed at correcting the decades of neglect of the intellectually disabled. Public Law 88-156 broadened the definition of “crippled children” to include the intellectually disabled, and provided major increases in maternal and child health services, as well as grants, to 50 states for the development of comprehensive plans of action to combat intellectual disability.

Public Law 88-164 provided funds for the construction of university research, service and training centers, community care centers and for training thousands of teachers in the care and education of those with intellectual disabilities.

Also, recognizing the primary need for research in the causes of intellectual disability, she encouraged the late President Kennedy and Congress to initiate the establishment of a new institute—the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development—and served from 1963 to 1965 as one of the original members of its advisory council.

A member of the Board of Governors of the Menninger Foundation from 1954 to 1957, an active and pioneering social worker in Chicago in the 1950s, and executive vice-president of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation since 1956, Mrs. Shriver has made an historic contribution in changing the focus of the Foundation’s work—from its original concern for the care of the intellectually disabled to a major concern for the prevention of intellectual disability itself, through research.

For her leadership in the encouragement of national legislation against intellectual disability, and the new hope she has brought to the blighted lives of millions, this Albert Lasker Public Service Award in Health is given.