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Torch Bearer of Nagaland

“Blessed are we to have Tiaba in our school”, says Elizabeth Dozo, Principal, Great Commission Kids Academy School (a Mainstream School) Dimapur. Tiaba Tzudir is 21 years of age and is a student of class 3. A Sensitized outlook and strong determination for bringing recognition and Inclusion of persons with Intellectual Disabilities created common ground for the Principal and Aren, Area Director Special Olympics Bharat- Nagaland to meet. Last year Tiaba became the first student with Special Needs to be part of the school. Preceding his admission the Principal conducted a few rounds of discussions with the Board Members, students and teachers to welcome a new awakening. As he continues to study here, Elizabeth keeps taking updates about him from his teachers, students and family members

“Although he may not understand each and everything, he is completely disciplined, cheerful and polite. He can’t learn but tries writing and doing everything that others do.  He smiles frequently and has many friends” After having successfully included Tiaba in their school system another child with Special Needs was granted admission this year in Class 11. Tiaba is a torch bearer in the truest sense, having literally run with the torch at two separate Special Olympics events and now spreading awareness and recognition of persons with Intellectual disabilities is nothing less of initiating transformation

Tiaba has also been taking a basic Computer Training course from IT. He did his state proud as he was first in the history of Nagaland to receive Best Role Model in Mental Retardation category at the National Awards 2015 for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. The awards were conferred upon 52 outstanding Person with Disabilities (PWDs), State Government & Departments, organisations & individuals that are working for the empowerment of PWDs on the ‘International Day for Persons with Disabilities’ & Launch of Accessible India Campaign 2015, 3rd of Dec 2015 at Plenary Hall, Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.

Since 2009, when he joined SO Bharat Tiaba  has been continuously participating in State and National level camps in Athletics and Badminton. It was not only sports but his overall inclusion that Aren, the Area Director of SO Bharat – Nagaland made her objective. In view of very few Special Schools scattered far off, for the past 3-4 years she has been attempting to build inroads to mainstream schools for acceptance of persons with Intellectual Disabilities. Alongside, she has even been meeting families of Athletes to convince them to have their family members with Special needs join a school. January 2015 brought her a light of hope when Tiaba was granted admission at the Great Commission Kids Academy. Prior to his joining the school, Aren held sessions with the teachers and addressed the students at an assembly, introducing Special Olympics to them. A strong message from the principal went to all the students prohibiting them from indulging in bullying, which in case occurred would be met with stringent action.

The objective of the school is not purely academics but social nurturing and acceptance. The school charges Tiaba half the fees. He is very happy with his friends here and is also happy to have learnt names of the days of the week!

Joining SO Bharat- Nagaland changed the way people looked at Tiaba, he became a sports champion, interacting confidently and gaining recognition. His father has a government job and his mother is a homemaker. Both are very supportive of Special Olympics and say that their son’s achievements may not have been possible without the Special Olympics experience.

Aren has told the teachers of his school to directly keep in touch with her to discuss progress with Tiaba and also ensures that he continues to practise sports regularly. “I want to get more Athletes here but convincing their parents is a challenge. I am looking at a possibility of having this school join us for Unified sports.”