Coronavirus-news June 4, 2020
Special Olympics Bharat athletes rope in new partners for virtual experience in skipping
Over 50 athletes with intellectual disabilities from five states participated in a virtual skipping competition organised by the Uttar Pradesh chapter of Special Olympics’ Bharat. This is the first time skipping was organised as an event and the aim was to build inclusion during the lockdown.
Led by Amitasha N. Mishra and Sahil Singh, a pair of young athletes with and without intellectual disability, 52 participants across eight teams from Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan displayed their best performance in a virtual skipping competition. This was an unexplored module to challenge the athletes and their Unified Partners (with and without disability) during the lockdown.
The event was part of a Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) – supported program running across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Haryana. SNF is one of the world’s leading private philanthropic organisations, making grants to NGOs in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare.
Sports as a medium of social inclusion
With the support of SNF, Special Olympics is transforming education systems around the world through unified sports and youth engagement. Through the model of Unified Schools, Special Olympics is enabling social inclusion for students with and without intellectual disabilities through inclusive sports events in schools and colleges.
The skipping competition was preceded by two weeks of selections, practices and final submissions. This ended in a virtual felicitation ceremony that was attended by nearly 200 people from India, Singapore, Pakistan and Indonesia. Also present were heads of three national institutes, working for disabled people representing the government of India.
Dr Amitav Mishra, General Secretary, Special Olympics Bharat, said the idea came about as events scheduled for March and April could not be held due to the lockdown.
The youth leaders came up with the concept of Virtual Unified Sports. We provided complete support to the unified leadership to carry out the experiment. It was good to experiment the concept on 52 players in the presence of a large number of virtual viewers. The event not only engaged a large number of athletes in physical exercises, but also connected with their peers without disabilities creating a large space in building an inclusive society. – Dr Amitav Mishra, General Secretary, Special Olympics Bharat & Chairperson, Special Olympics Bharat, UP chapter
Intellectually disabled athletes as agents of change
The Special Olympics movement believes in the power of the intellectually disabled athletes and youth in general to lead the charge for inclusion. During this global pandemic, unified pairs of Special Olympics athletes from across the Asia Pacific region have inspired the larger community with positive messages about the importance of staying fit, healthy and socially connected while in isolation at home.
“This project is a great example of how every one of us has the power to be an agent of change”, added Dipak Natali, President & Managing Director, Special Olympics Asia Pacific.
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