SPECIAL OLYMPICS The recent training camp for special children opened up many possibilities. NILEENA M.S.
Beena came forward with a proud smile as the Guest of Honour S.Ve.Sekhar called her onto the stage to congratulate her for representing the country at the Volleyball match for the intellectually challenged in Ireland. There were around 400 children like her present at the inauguration of the national Coaching Camp organised by the Special Olympics Bharat.
These young athletes, eyeing the Summer International Special Olympics, underwent training in badminton at the five-day-camp being held at the St. Joseph’s College, Sholinganallur. Students and coaches from Goa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu participated. The camp offers free training to the intellectually challenged children who are eight years of age or older.
The camp was inaugurated by the Minister for Social Welfare, Geetha Jeevan. D.S.N. Prasad, Area Director, Special Olympics Bharat and Dr. Babu Manoharan, Director, St. Joseph’s College, addressed the audience. The participants were all smiles and broke into rapturous applause each time the speakers made an interesting point. Prasad requested the minister to allot some land so that the organisation could build a playground. “There are more than 200,000children who are intellectually deprived in Tamil Nadu alone. Our aim is to reach out to the maximum children possible. Many of these kids are poor and they don’t have access to such facilities.”The touching part of the event was the donations made towards the medical assistance of Selvi Uma, a promising athlete who suffered an injury when participating in an event and requires a surgery to return to the field.
Paul Devasahay, Regional trainer and Assistant Sports Director, Tamil Nadu, “It is true that we have to give them more time to understand and learn things. First, we observe them and find out what talent each child has got and give them training accordingly. We look for their abilities and not their disabilities.”Prasad who is also the founder-director of Pathway, an NGO working for the education and rehabilitation of children, said that they are divided into groups as with severe, moderate and mild levels of intellectual deprivation and trained accordingly. The training is also seen as a therapy for children and many of them have proved successful in their lives.
Venkatesh who represented India at the Special Oympics1996 and 2005 is now working at a private firm. Nithya, Beena and Suchi had won Bronze in basketball in 2003. Nithya is now working at a packaging unit.The special Oylmpics Bharat formed in 2001 offers free training for the intellectually challenged in sports like athletics, badminton, aquatics, basketball ,cycling, football, roller skating, table tennis and alpine skiing. Started with 300 athletes, the movement has now grown to accommodate more than 20,000 athletes and 25000 coaches.
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