Engaging more and more persons, from the ‘mainstream’ world, on the sports field with the Athletes, Unified Sports is fueled year after year by ESPN, strengthening bonds and breaking barriers.
Under the banner in India, Delhi, Goa, Kerala and Punjab have committed to add eight new Unified schools each within the next few months. (Unified School is one that conducts/participates in at least two Unified Sports in a year) In schools where it has been going on, the experience continues touching lives of the new student batches. This program includes Coaches training and Unified Sports (where teams combine players with and without Intellectual Disabilities)
Goa has cracked the target, in fact exceeded it by reaching to over 15 schools already and training over sixty coaches to conduct Unified Sports. Although Unified Sports has been part of the bi-weekly curriculum at Fairyland School, Dexita , a student of grade 8, has been playing ‘Unified’ for three months. The Fairyland School has two wings- High School and a Special School.
Special Olympics has not been new for Dexita (pronounced- Dikshita). She heard of Athletes from her school winning medals at the World Games, she even volunteered in the Young Athletes Program, but playing as a Unified Partner in football as what she is doing now, seems a whole new experience.
“Every time I think I know Special Olympics, I am exposed to a different side of this huge organization!” Unified football is teaching her new skills and new techniques and also to be patience and have a calm mind. “I feel that I am building a bond with all the four Athletes I play often with. My Coaches, Mitesh and Cyril ensure that we not only develop our skills but also learn something more profound through this experience.”
Mr Mitesh Lotlekar Coach, Fairyland School Goa, “ I have observed that the team, Athletes & the Unified Partners enjoy a ‘Unified’ game so much that I want to make the other sports Unified as well. They learn the game and more. While the partners learn patience they also help in daily activities like helping them wear their shoes, tie the shoelaces. Sharing these moments strengthens bonds.”
Ms. Cyena Pegado I/C Headmistress, Fairyland High School, Goa, “We have both, a high school as well as a special school. Therefore we have students with and without Intellectual Disabilities grow together. They do learn from each other, but their sporting engagements together show us a different side altogether. The non- verbal cues that they relay to each other is so interesting. They learn to communicate & understand each other”
“I would like to introduce Unified Football at my Village Sports Club, to my neighborhood friends. It would be such a wonderful experience to have an inclusive community” – Dexita