As founder and honorary chairperson of Special Olympics and executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, Eunice Kennedy Shriver worked tirelessly to enhance the lives of individuals with IDD for more than five decades. For her unwavering commitment, she received numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Legion of Honor and more than a dozen honorary degrees.
Pictured at the dedication of the Shriver Center in 1970 (from left to right): Co-Founder, Dr. Raymond Adams, Rose Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and David Crockett, Associate Director of Mass General Hospital.(c) UPI/Landov.
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center was founded in 1970 in Waltham, MA, with a mission to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The Center was named in honor of Mrs. Shriver and her lifelong commitment to championing the rights of individuals with IDD, and to influencing public perception of their value and potential contributions to their communities.
The Shriver Center is one of the 12 original Intellectual and Developmental Research Centers (IDDRCs) established by Congress under the Community Mental Health Act of 1963. Then and now, this prestigious national network advances efforts to understand, prevent, and treat intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In 1970, the Shriver Center was designated a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) by the federal Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In keeping with Mrs. Shriver’s vision, UCEDDs work to enhance the independence, productivity, and inclusion of individuals with disabilities.
In 2000, the Shriver Center merged with the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, enhancing its resources and expanding its expertise.
In 2013, the Center relocated to two locations in Massachusetts, in Worcester and Charlestown. The move has increased the statewide impact of the Center’s programs, expanded access to clinical and research populations, and has enhanced development of its training and service programs.