On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the global Special Olympics movement, youth leaders of SO Bharat geared up in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Hyderabad to spread the message of ‘Revolution Inclusion’ to raise awareness for Special Olympics and Play Unified. The day is also celebrated as Special Olympics’ Golden Anniversary & Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day, who was the Founder of Special Olympics.
Special Olympics Bharat is a National Sports Federation accredited by Special Olympics Inc to conduct its sports programmes all over India. It organises Olympic-type sports for persons with intellectual disabilities with over 1.4 million athletes registered in the programme currently. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to 5.5 million athletes in 172 countries.
In Gurgaon, as part of the Scottish High International School’s annual festival SHISMUN Fiesta, a sporting fund raiser was organised by the youth leaders on July 20, 2018 across five disciplines, namely, Aquatics, Basketball, Badminton, Football and Table Tennis. The programme saw participation of students of Grades VI-XII. The fundraising rounds were preceded by unified engagements across all the disciplines bringing together persons with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates.
Additionally in Mumbai, a meet and greet session was also organised between WWE Superstar-Braun Strowman and SO Bharat athletes from Maharashtra. SO Bharat also organised a Kick-a-thon, a football fundraising event where 20 unified teams competed in a 5-a-side tournament at the Lions Municipal Sports Complex, Santacruz. The event was supported by Hridey Sahgal, a youth leader from The International School Bangalore (TISB), who also raised funds through a Swimathon in his school, and promised to expand the initiative to more parts of the country.
Following the two events, 20 medallists from the previous Special Olympics World Games and few athletes preparing for the upcoming Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019 engaged exclusively with the WWE Superstar, Braun Strowman, at the ITC Kakatiya, Hyderabad, on July 21, 2018. The tour of the superstar upholds the partnership of WWE with Special Olympics in support of Play Unified and the Special Olympics’ campaign focused on creating change through sports.
Celebrating 50 years of Special Olympics, Air Marshal(Retd) Denzil Keelor PVSM, KC, AVSM, VrC., Founder & CEO SO Bharat, said, “This is a glorious year for Special Olympics as it marks 50 years of this incredible movement. I would like to congratulate all the youth leaders for their continued participation and support for spreading the message of Inclusion Revolution.”
Special Olympics has created a more inclusive, welcoming world for all and has been changing attitudes about the talents of people with intellectual disabilities. The global celebrations will inspire new generations to see their beauty, dignity and talent. India celebrates having over 1.4 million athletes from all the States and Union Territories successfully having nurtured sporting skills of the athletes for the World Games over the years; with growing support of the Government of India and a wide network of educational institutions. With the support of global entities like the LCI, ESPN, IKEA Foundation, Herbalife Nutrition, WWE, HASBRO the platform of providing opportunities to one of the most marginalised and invisible segments of the society, accentuates the message and urgency of inclusion.
Special Olympics Bharat is recognised by the Government of India as a National Sports Federation in the Priority Category for the development of Sports for Persons with Intellectual Disability and has been designated as the Nodal Agency by the Government for all disabilities on account of its national presence, outreach and experience. The programme spreads across all the States and Union Territories of India.