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Special Olympics Bharat’s efforts acknowled in Haryana and Delhi

May 18, 2018

The 10-member team was on a 6-day visit where they interacted with children and families enrolled in the SO Young Athletes Program.

New Delhi: The success of the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program supported by the IKEA Foundation has grown from strength to strength in recent times, and to witness the work that goes into the Program, 9 members from the Ikea Foundation, Taiwan, visited India between 29 April to 4 May 2018. The 10-member team, which was accompanied by representatives from the Special Olympics International USA and the Special Olympics Bharat, visited schools, met the families of the Young Athletes, and met the local and state authorities in Haryana and Delhi as a part of their ‘Iwitness’ trip.

The ‘Iwitness’ trip included interactive sessions with the Young Athletes, their mentors and family members, which were conducted at different schools to understand the significance of sport for children belonging to the underprivileged background battling trivialities for their daily sustenance. The 10-member ‘Iwitness’ team visited numerous schools on a daily basis, which included The Soniya Arya Memorial Little Angels Inclusive School in Sonepat where the team met 35 Young Athletes and their 15 family members, Chetanalaya Society which boasts of students like Ritu and Sunil who have participated in the World Games, and the Kulachi Hansraj School which has been associated with SO Bharat for numerous years. They reached out to the Balmiki Aanganwadi to experience impact of the program at the grassroots.

The ‘Iwitness’ team interacted in depth with the Young Athletes, teachers and parents with the assistance of the SO Bharat National and State officers. The 6-day visit saw the IKEA ‘Iwitness’ team study the Young Athletes closely and highlighted the notable work done by SO Bharat in supporting young children, irrespective of their economic strata. IKEA Iwitness team’s spokesperson, Ms Vivi Chen while expressing her satisfaction on the visit said, “The greatest achievement of this 6-day trip was to have been able to see the joy on the faces of the children as they engaged in playing. I was happy to see drills being conducted which are relevant to both persons with and without Intellectual Disabilities. The Unified layout is meaningful in as much as preparing the Athletes to be part of the society along with the rest”

About the Special Olympics Young Athletes Programme

IKEA Foundation and Special Olympics Bharat, together in 2017 strengthened focus on young children percolating the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program (YAP) to the grassroots. The program concentrates on developing children with Intellectual Disability through play introducing and preparing children in the age group of 2-7 years to sports while also offering their families an opportunity to learn about their child’s ability through inclusive play.

It includes a series of structured physical activities to teach basic motor skills. Through these play activities, children grow and develop valuable motor skills, like walking and running, while also enhancing social and cognitive skills through interaction with their peers, with and without intellectual disabilities in a highly inclusive environment.

The project in India is part of Special Olympics’ larger project with the IKEA Foundation. Funding from the IKEA Foundation is supporting the growth of Young Athletes in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Thailand through 2019. The goal is to include 350,000 children in Young Athletes activities, thereby creating 5,000 socially inclusive communities that foster the development and growth of children with intellectual disabilities.

“Every child has the right to play and develop” says Chris Williams, Communications Manager at the IKEA Foundation. “Through our Let’s Play for Change campaign, we are proudly supporting Special Olympics to make that right a reality for all children—helping them play, grow and develop both physically and mentally so they can reach their full potential. We’re incredibly grateful to Special Olympics for giving every child a chance to discover the great things they are capable of achieving”

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