NYU Abu Dhabi Athletics and Special Olympics UAE launch virtual fitness support programme

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NYUAD student Salma Abdelaziz (right) with Special Olympics athlete Nour El Akhdar. -- Supplied photo
NYUAD student Salma Abdelaziz (right) with Special Olympics athlete Nour El Akhdar. -- Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi - NYUAD student athletes will hold two sessions per week to train virtually with Special Olympics athletes.

By KT Report

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Published: Wed 17 Jun 2020, 1:45 PM

Last updated: Wed 17 Jun 2020, 3:49 PM

NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Athletics has launched Virtual Unified Partners, a virtual fitness support programme, in cooperation with Special Olympics UAE.
As part of the programme, NYUAD student athletes will hold two sessions per week to train virtually with Special Olympics athletes.
The initiative is designed to assist Special Olympics athletes without pre-existing support platforms to stay engaged in sports activities and continue being active while staying home, according to a press release.
The pilot programme kicked off with 16 NYUAD students signing up to train with 17 Special Olympics athletes aged between nine and 32, with an aim of providing support and building relationships between NYUAD student athletes and Special Olympics athletes. The programme will also provide NYUAD athletes with an opportunity to engage with people of determination and serve the community during this challenging time.
Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Athletics at NYUAD Peter Dicce, commented: "This pioneering programme continues NYUAD's partnership with the Special Olympics and builds on the legacy of the Special Olympics World Games hosted by Abu Dhabi in 2019. The coronavirus cannot derail our mission to promote opportunities and social inclusion for these remarkable athletes."
On behalf of the Special Olympics UAE, Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE, said: "We are pleased to cooperate with NYU Abu Dhabi on this programme and many other programmes to unified teams that are seeking to achieve a unified goal; effective and complete social inclusion. We are grateful for the University and students' response towards the current situation and work with us to come up with the 'Unified Partners' program that created a strong link among students in the University and our athletes from people of determination and intellectual challenges."
Khawla Barley, Initiatives Development Supervisor at Special Olympics UAE, commented: "NYU Abu Dhabi students have undergone training sessions with the Special Olympics athletes before the program, which is being continued inline with the remote training and learning practices. Throughout the programme, we will ensure to collect data and information to establish best practices and develop unified virtual programs for the future."
NYUAD Class of 2023 student who is majoring in Filmmaking and Social Research and Public Policy, Salma Abdelaziz, described her experience with Special Olympics athlete Nour El Akhdar, saying: "I am very grateful for the opportunity provided through NYUAD Athletics to volunteer with the Special Olympics. I wouldn't exchange the bond that I built with Nour for anything else in the world. In our Zumba work-out sessions, Nour's dance movements are always on point; she would definitely be a better instructor than me!"
The students will design each of the workout sessions and will be assisted by NYUAD Athletics coaches to ensure they provide tailored fitness activities for each participant. The sessions will be conducted via video-conferencing, allowing each individual to remain home while completing the sessions.
This initiative comes as part of NYUAD Athletics' commitment to supporting the community by promoting fitness and physical activity as well as fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the NYUAD community and beyond.
NYUAD campus has previously hosted the Athletics, Powerlifting, Mobile Athletes Training Programme (MATP), and Global Youth Summit events during the March 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games and served as the venue for Athletics, Powerlifting, MATP, and Swimming events which took place during the March 2018 MENA Special Olympics Games.

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