Volume 2 Issue 15 - August 01, 2004

An arena for the intellectually disabled

DNIS News Network -- Special Olympics Bharat has developed a strategy to encourage and enable India’s intellectually disabled to participate in sports.

Special Olympics Bharat (SOB) recognises the need to involve intellectually challenged children in their outreach programmes. A three-day meet of 45 sports directors from 24 states of India was held with that aim in mind. They established plans to expand partnership programmes in approximately 2,000 special schools in the country and build synergies with similar organisations.

Their effort is part of developmental plans of Special Olympics International, a movement founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968.

The Chairman of SOB, Mr Denzil Keelor says, “The time has to not only focus on economic growth alone, but to take the special children of our society along the path of growth.” This statement attains value in the light of the recent World Heath Organisation estimates, which state that 30 million people in India are suffering from intellectual disabilities. Currently, the healthy athlete and leadership programmes cover only 0.126% of the country’s intellectually disabled population.

Through sports we want o develop their fitness, health, demonstrate courage, personality and potential,” said Mr Keelor explaining the motive of the programme.

SOB has to raise their volunteer coaches to 10,000; involve athletes and medical physicians for health screenings and add several sports and games, like cricket, gymnastics, power lifting and tennis, to their existing list. The only block in their path is the lack of funds and funding options in India.

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