Two new initiatives are aiming to start a conversation on the importance of inclusion in the community in preparation for key upcoming sporting events for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
The Train the Trainers and Healthy Athletes schemes will address the specific needs of sportspeople in the capital with targeted training and healthcare.
The two initiatives were launched to coincide with the MENA Special Olympics Regional Games in March next year and the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, to be held in Abu Dhabi.
With over 30 local and 16 regional physicians trained in the first wave, the Train the Trainers programme aims to help healthcare professionals better treat, care and communicate with patients with intellectual disabilities for the future, as well as training others in anticipation of the upcoming events.
In addition, the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes plan will provide crucial health screenings and education to sportspeople with intellectual disabilities in the UAE, including advice on dentistry, fitness, nutrition and emotional wellbeing.
Commenting on the need for an ongoing dialogue on inclusion, HE Dr Maha Barakat from the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and Department of Health, said: “It is a real honour for Abu Dhabi and our nation to be hosting the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, a true reflection of the UAE’s 2021 vision, which promotes an inclusive environment by extending care towards all segments of the community.
“It is no coincidence that the Healthy Athletes programme mirrors our vision for A Healthier Abu Dhabi,” she continued.
“By helping individuals with disabilities overcome various challenges, we are preparing them to become highly qualified and productive members of society. At the same time we are breaking down societal [misconceptions].”