A program nurtured & supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Case Study- Uttar Pradesh
Gaining confidence to speak freely, getting hope seeing new promising leaders after years of mentoring. The Athletes , youth leaders , school faculty, family , Coaches reminisce the past few years of a dynamic change in volumes never seen before within classrooms and school bounds. All unfolded as the program supported by SNF expanded horizons of education and leadership in the past three years.
UttarPradesh witnessed a clear pattern where the first year successfully engaged whole school communities across a large number of schools registered in the program, followed by the next year where a new inclusive leadership emerged. The third year brought an unprecedented turn of events globally that also showcased an equally unprecedented and persistent resilience amongst the school communities who kept flexing tirelessly into the challenging twists and turns of the new normal.
The state of UP carried out a qualitative impact study on teachers and coaches through write ups collected from partners and leader stating their peak experience/any significant event or incident/general experience of the project. A sizeable group of teachers and coaches (44.4% respondents) perceived that the project has a broader positive impact on whole school that was beyond the core activity of Unified Sports. The youth partners/leaders expressed that they have truly enjoyed all activities of the project and have developed a substantial comfort level and in some cases even a bond with the special athlete they played with. They have effectively turned into advocates of Inclusion. The study was carried out across seven districts of UP recording the response of 27 teachers, Coaches and higher school authorities
Most equated Unfiied Sports with injecting ‘equity’ into sports , that ensures opportunities and growth of both students with and without Intellectual Disability and that they derived greatest happiness from witnessing an inclusive interaction and a barrier free environment.
‘Our special school was attached to a regular school. If other special schools are attached like this, then can have excellent result. Covid has derailed the project. Project should continue’- Coach
A transformation that comes slowly but surely
“My name is Abhinav and I am a Unified Partner from the BBL Public School, Bareilly. The first time I heard about Special Olympics and Athletes with Intellectual Disability was in the year 2013. I was in standard III. I was totally against the practice of giving opportunities to the players who are disabled by ignoring players who are not only abled but also very good in sports. I thought that these players would lack in their ability and were in fact, encroaching upon our opportunities. In the year 2018, I got a circular form the school to participate in Special Olympics event supported by SNF. That was a local Unified Sports.
In the first round of a basketball game, I found the game a little challenging as two special athletes in the opposite team were very good (special athletes in our team were good also). After the game, I spoke to them, we shook hands and said bye. One of the special athlete ‘Vasu’ asked my address and contact number. He turned out to be from my Colony. Our friendship started. I started appreciating the extra ordinary abilities of such special athletes. Interacting with him was an eye-opener. This world needs to change and become more and more inclusive. Me and few of my school mates cannot bring the change. We all need to work for this”
Source: Final SNF Report May 2021