A reason to smile

By Rosie Tone ,

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GOING THROUGH THE PACES: These mini games are only a taste of what the team offers.

GOING THROUGH THE PACES: These mini games are only a taste of what the team offers.

There was plenty of laughter and fun by all during the mini games competition held in Falealili last Friday. 

The Special Olympics Samoa team conducted the games along with registration of new athletes. 

These games follow Special Olympics Samoa’s participation in the Nuanua o le Alofa (N.O.L.A) awareness forum the previous week where new athletes expressed an interest to join the program. 

Collaborations with groups like N.O.L.A has ensured the programme continues to grow and the powerful message behind the Special Olympics movement is heard by more and more people.

These mini games are only a taste of what the team offers, using sports as a tool to promote quality and equality for people with intellectual disabilities in Samoa.

As some may have seen earlier in the month, Special Olympics Samoa was the lucky recipient of $32,000 from its long-term partner Digicel during the company’s L.T.E launch. 

It is only with this generosity from fans that the programme can operate and is vital as not everyone gets to travel to International games, so the programmes run locally especially those at the grass roots level allows each participant to feel valued and a part of something exciting and positive.

The programmes run by the team include mini-games which engage unemployed youth, families and unified partners to work with teams directly, monthly games bringing together teams in both Upolu and Savai’i to share in a moment of laughter and create a sense of encouragement and finally, competition and tournaments.

Statistics show that approximately 1-3 percent of the global population has an intellectual disability and of this group more are from low-income countries with as many as 200 million people with intellectual disability - 16.41 in every 1,000 people. 

With this in mind, Special Olympics Samoa C.E.O, Tusitina Nu’uvali and her team have had to rely on their local partners and the kindness and support they have received from the public since the programs inception in 2009 so that people with intellectual disabilities are granted the same opportunities and the right to experience and share in a moment of joy and happiness.  

Despite being a small organisation, Special Olympics Samoa continues to empower people, focusing on what an individual can do rather than their disability in order to promote an inclusive and barrier free world. 

The team is excited for the rest of 2016 and have said that although the work can be challenging, finding a reason to smile is not.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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