Differently-abled children need acceptance and inclusion in society. This was the message given by coaches and parents of six differently-abled athletes of Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 27, who have been selected for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
They are among 282 athletes from India, who will take part in games such as roller skating, judo, athletics, basketball and cycling.
Their parents were visibly happy at their selection. Arun Agarwal, father of roller skate champion Arun Agarwal, was glad that the efforts put in by his son into the sport for over a decade, were finally bearing fruit. ‘’It is a proud moment for me that my son is going to play at an international platform.”
“He has won several medals and prizes in the past but he made me proud when he won the gold medal at Hyderabad in 2017. These kids need more space in society so that they can get a chance to step up,’’ said Agarwal, adding that people must learn to accept these children as they are.
He praised his son’s school for helping to integrate these children with others. ‘’The results are for you to see.”
Agreeing with him, Sheetal Negi, who has been coaching these children for past two years, also called for an attitudinal change in society. “Differently-abled children do not come forward because of the bad attitude of society towards them. We must treat these kids like we treat other children.”
The school, she said, wants to send the message that the number of special children should be increased in schools of Chandigarh so that more of them can get education and training in sports according to their abilities.
Rakesh Kumar, who coaches judo player, Rupinder Singh, said it is not easy to train these children because they do not know any game to begin with. “We have to make them learn each and every game, each skill have to be taught one-by-one to improve their abilities,” he said.
Judo player, Rupinder Sigh, seemed very happy that his friend, Mani Sigh, has also been selected for the cycling event at the world games.
Neelu Sareen, area director of Special Olympic Bharat, Chandigarh, was all smiles as she told Newsline, “ I have been looking after these children for past 25 years and I feel proud that six of them have been selected for World Games.’’
She said the biggest challenge these children face is that of loneliness. ‘’They are not accepted by society and children in their neighbourhoods do not like to include them in any of the games they play. If the society were to accept them, they would learn much more,’’ she concluded.