We know the future belongs in the hands of our children. Every one of them spark joy and imagination in the pristine way they view life with abundance of joy. Every one of them should be celebrated in their own unique ways.
But every day, we at Special Olympics witness stories of children with ID facing challenges from basic facilities like education and medical support, to social exclusions even within their own communities.
Take the story of Hadbaa, a little girl born with Down Syndrome just over the age of 7. Growing up, she had to get used to other children and even parents whispering about how she looks. She faced multiple rejections from various schools because there were no teachers that could care for children like her. (Watch the campaign video to learn more about her story.)
Another little boy that caught our hearts is Joachim, also lovingly known as ‘Akim’. At 3, he was diagnosed with autism and subsequently Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). During class, Akim would jump around and scream for no reason, and had to be held in order to calm down. Other parents didn’t want him in their classes.
That’s why we started the Young Athletes program, to help over 360,000 children with ID navigate life’s uncertainties and rejections, and give them more reasons to celebrate their lives!
The Young Athletes program is an early childhood play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities ages 2 to 7 years old. With the program, we help these young athletes enter communities that support a life of friendships, fitness and learning.
Today, COVID has further worsened the situation with about 40% low and lower-middle income countries not supporting these children with ID.
Within Asia Pacific, at least one third of children with ID are likely to not receive any early intervention services. They experience challenges and rejections to education that result in 52.7% drop in enrolment rate between primary and secondary school.
If you’d like to join the social rally for Young Athletes,
check out #WalkForInclusion on social channels, or visit our website at https://humanrace.asia/walkforinclusion/.