Special Olympics Bharat virtual event advocates 'inclusion'

NEW DELHI: Special Olympics Bharat conducted a virtual event on the occasion of the Global Day of Inclusion to celebrate and promote inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, many of whom are often stigmatized and denied equal opportunities at work, in schools and even on the sports field. 

The event was attended by celebrity guests such as actor Adil Hussain, cricketer Roger Binny, golfer Brandon De Souza and mountaineer Premlata Aggarwal.

The Special athletes got an opportunity to interact one-on-one with these distinguished figures and not only receive invaluable advice but also share their experiences of inclusion and participation. The guests provided words of wisdom and discussed ways to bring about more acceptance and create greater opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.  

Hussain, emphasized on the importance of better representation of people with disabilities in mainstream media. “The Indian film industry needs to do more to promote inclusion. We need more films like Margarita with a Straw as cinema is a very powerful medium to create awareness among the general public. They also help develop a sense of empathy in people for all those who are different and perceived as the “other””, says Hussain.

De Souza, current president of the Golf Industry Association, advocated for more unified sports tournaments. “Athletes with intellectual abilities should be encouraged to compete with everybody else in their appropriate age category without being given differential treatment. Not only will this help them improve their game but also give them the chance to showcase their abilities against the best and add real value to any tournament they are a part of.”

Special Olympics Asia Pacific Region have also launched a campaign called #1000CranesforInclusion to spread the message of inclusion through a simple origami crane. The social media initiative urges people from all walks of life across the region to come together in creating origami cranes, a thousand of which forms a Senbazuru, according to a Japanese culture, symbolizing hope and healing during challenging times.

Praising the event and the initiative, Dipak Natali, president and managing director, Special Olympics Asia Pacific said, “A lot of people in the world, myself included, can learn from the youth of Special Olympics Bharat about what inclusion is and how to apply it in our daily lives, where just like this virtual session,  every person is given an equal chance and platform to be heard and provide inputs. Similarly, the 1000 Cranes for Inclusion is an inclusive and unique initiative that comes directly from the Special athletes, the very people who are excluded, and brings their hopes and ideas to a global platform in a bid to make a change.”