The Chief Guest of the Opening Ceremony was Olympic medalist Vijender Singh. The ceremony was also attended by Aruna Oswal, PID Lions Clubs International and Chairperson of the Aruna Abhey Oswal Trust, Ambassador of Ecuador, Hector Cueva Jacome and Air Marshal Denzil Keelor Founder and CEO SO Bharat.
Addressing the audience on the occasion, Vijender Singh said, "I strongly believe that in sports, winning and losing are secondary, what's important is that you try. In fact, winning doesn't teach you anything. When you lose is when you see the real picture. The special athletes are an inspiration for all of us. I am sure this is just the start of Special Olympics Bharat. I look forward to continue being a part of this great initiative."
Air Marshal Denzil Keelor, Founder Trustee of Special Olympics Bharat said, "What we are celebrating here is a very important initiative. We have the Special Olympics Youth Leaders of SO Bharat and the Leos of the Lions Club coming together here today to hone their leadership skills. Their incubation in the program, promises to significantly add to our plans for the formation of a unified generation of tomorrow."
Over two years ago, SO Bharat were selected to carry out a program called Mission Inclusion for a period of three years. The Program reached out to more than eighty thousand Athletes, Partners, Families, Youth, and Doctors through Unified Sports, Youth Activation and Healthy Athlete Programs having achieved over 90 per cent of the target.
These elements happen to be an integral part of the Special Olympics Global Strategy. This program was the dream of Aruna Oswal. Mission Inclusion emerged and grew out of this partnership and is now an ongoing movement.
Aruna Oswal, International Director of Lions Clubs International and Founder of the Aruna Abhey Oswal Trust said, "The Aruna Abhey Oswal Trust aims at nurturing lives. We stand by special athletes through the "Mission: Inclusion" national platform. We support the efforts of empowering these athletes to become confident and dignified members of our community. The inclusive sports program, Unified Sports, must be encouraged for cultivating sensitivity, acceptance, unity, and bravery among our youth."
The session aimed at bringing a renewed focus towards mobilizing volunteers and local communities nationwide to support Special Olympics athletes- both on and off the field of play. To join them in their endeavors of promoting inclusion, SO Bharat Youth leaders, with & without intellectual disability, invited Lions Clubs volunteers and their youth network, LEOs from across India to introduce them to the Special Olympics' movement towards building leadership and inclusion.
Following the opening ceremony, about 100 young participants, including Youth leaders with and without Intellectual Disabilities and Leos from all over India will engage in interactive sessions to educate each other on building inclusive communities and lifelong positive attitudes towards people with ID by increasing school Unified Sports programs, developing youth leaders, and empowering young people to support and join the Special Olympics movement.
The program will wrap up with an hour-long Unified Basketball engagement. To conclude the workshop, the LEOs along with the National Youth Core team will define a Special Olympics activity that they would undertake in their respective districts to bring on board more LEOs to join the Special Olympics' inclusion movement. (ANI)