“Let’s be friends” said Akshita from Chandigarh; Sahil from UP, at the Fit 5 Session said, “I know this exercise. Watch me do it” Humza , Athlete from Mumbai, proudly named the sports that he has participated in and he loves, having been with SO Bharat for 6-7 years now. There may be nothing out of the ordinary about these thoughts except that it is the Athletes who have been expressing themselves, shedding off their inhibitions as they blend in with everyone beyond category.
With Athlete leadership workshops being conducted from time to time, nurturing a Unified generation can be witnessed. In India, Athlete leaders from different states are surfacing as they are getting an opportunity to sharpen communication skills.
One such workshop was held from 21-23 February 2019 at the Frank Anthony Public School New Delhi. Approx 33 prospective Athlete leaders from all over India along with their mentors surprised everyone with the potential which is spread all over the country. They showed enthusiasm, took the initiative to come up and talk. The Athlete Leadership Workshop led by Harpreet Singh Gambhir, Sports Director took the participants through developing public speaking skills, governance, health care and sports. Being an effective ‘Health Messenger’ was a session taken by Wing Commander Aroop Banerjee from the Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences while Mr Victor R Vaz, the National Sports Director, threw light on rising beyond the role of a player to that of a Coach Assistant, expanding perspective.
A session of ‘Fit 5’ led by Mr Raman Kaushal , from the Scottish High International Gurugram, supplemented the drills with information, drawing attention to its scientific collation. Fit 5 is based on the three simple goals of exercising 5 days per week, eating 5 total fruits and vegetables per day, and drinking 5 water bottles of water per day. Athletes & Mentors alike received lessons of developing their personal best by balancing physical activity, nutrition and hydration
The Athlete leaders who attended the workshop would be called from time to time to keep the graph rising- upgrade their skills and develop confidence. They would also be connected with the youth leaders in their respective states making them an important and valuable part of Youth Activation. Few of the Unified projects are already underway in different parts of the country creating a platform for further expanding opportunities for more leaders with and without Intellectual Disabilities join the movement and learn to Accept, Respect, Recognize and Include
Shrey Kadian , member of the SOAP Athlete Input Council is coaching football to a group of Athletes in his school, Mata Bhagwanti Chaddha Niketan NOIDA. He is also spreading the Special Olympics movement along with his Unified partner, Simran Sahni across new school in the Delhi NCR region. Rithik along with Mahi Dheri, while approaching new schools to create Unified Schools and Champion schools in the city of Jaipur, is connecting & encouraging new Unified pairs to continue with youth engagement there. A sibling pair in Assam, Rekha Das (without ID) and Sagarika Das (with ID) is connecting with the youth leaders there to create a forum including more and more youth who have siblings who are Athletes with SO Bharat
As Unified Sports breaks barriers on the sports field facilitating bonding and friendship between persons with and without Intellectual Disabilities, Special Olympics has expanded opportunities for them to continue with engaging and assuming diverse roles jointly beyond sports.