UAE sets ball rolling for inclusive world

UAE sets ball rolling for inclusive world

To ensure the legacy of Special Olympics, the UAE has announced various initiatives to integrate people of determination.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 22 Mar 2019, 9:19 PM

Last updated: Fri 22 Mar 2019, 11:27 PM

The Special Olympics World Games 2019 is the UAE's first major step towards an inclusive world. By hosting the most unified games ever in its 50-year history and first one in the Middle East, the UAE has shown resolute commitment to spread the word of acceptance and tolerance.
Taking further strides, a Retreat of Determination was held with participation of the leaders, officials and people of determination. There were deliberations and understanding about the challenges faced by the people of determination.
Henceforth, it was decided to roll out 31 initiatives to ensure lasting legacy of the Special Olympics and integrate people of determination in all areas of daily life and workplace.
As a start, the Special Olympics UAE and the Ministry of Education have launched the Unified Champion Schools programme, which promotes inclusion through sports activities across all the public schools in the country from the new academic year. With this, the UAE is the first country in the Middle East to implement such a programme across the nation.
The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has started a project to plant ghaf trees, the official logo for the 'Year of Tolerance', in a bid to offset carbon emission generated during the games.
The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi has unveiled a 'Special Olympics Garden' with six artworks to bring the community together.
There are many more steps in pipeline from the Ministries of Health and Prevention, Justice, Human Resources and Emiratisation, Community Development and more.
With such initiatives, all in line with the UAE Vision 2021 and 2071, the country hopes to extend the powerful legacy of Special Olympics movement and keep the flame of hope burning for people of determination.
Higher committee, association for mothers
People of determination are always part of the national agenda. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, while heading the UAE ministerial council, announced the formation of a Higher Committee for Services to provide world-class services to people of determination. Also, the committee will streamline all the government efforts, at federal and local level, supporting the people of determination.
"This will help to ensure speedy implementation of 31 initiatives," Minister of Community Development Hessa Essa Buhumaid said.
The minister noted that Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, has instructed to establish the Mothers of Determination Association.
"This will include mothers from all over the UAE. This association will make great impact in lives of families," the minister said.
The mandate of the new organisation includes the exchange of expertise and knowledge, the creation of a channel of communication between mothers and the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in addition to the organisation of educational and training workshops for mothers.
Olympics equipment to be shared
The UAE is pulling all stops to ensure the message of inclusivity is conveyed in the best possible way. While in most countries, the venues turn ghost town and often crumble after major events likes Olympics. In the UAE, the equipment at these venues will now be handed over to the special needs centres in the country and the region, a top official said.
Tala Al Ramahi, chief strategy officer, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times that the investments made into the event will never go wasted.
"We have invested so much in equipment and facilities to develop these sports arenas which athletes competed in. We have committed to making sure that many of these sports equipment will go to local programmes of Special Olympics UAE in addition to special needs centres and some schools that require this equipment to run their own programmes. We want to make sure that everything that has been invested in goes to good use. We wanted to use these games as a platform to not just empower people of determination but also promote inclusion. So we will be sharing what we can with programmes that are promoting inclusive sports."
Tala said the first such programme to benefit will be the recently announced Unified Champion Schools, which aims to promote inclusion in schools through sports, youth leadership events and engaging the school community, including teachers and parents.
"The Unified Champion Schools (which was first tried out in 18 public schools as pilot project) will now be expanded to 600 public schools across the UAE by September," she noted.
"Also, some of the equipment and facilities will go to Special Olympics UAE and other schools in the region," said Tala, who is also Special Olympics UAE board member.
The UAE hopes to be a beacon of hope for the world and inculcate a culture of tolerance and acceptance.

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