Special Olympics to introduce unified sports in schools

Saturday, October 5th, 2019 00:00 |
Stella Jepkoskei of Rift Valley crosses the finish line to win the 800m during last year’s Special Olympics at Kasarani Stadium. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

Special Olympics Kenya (SOK) will, starting next year, hold their unified competitions alongside the Kenya Schools Sports Association For Learners with Special Needs (KSSALSN) competitions, a move aimed at encouraging inclusivity for athletes with Intellectual Disabilities (ID).

This will be the federation’s first move as talks to have the same applied during the Kenya Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) and their primary school counterparts’ competitions get underway.

Currently, SOK holds competitions on various disciplines that involve athletes with and without ID, known as Unified Sports.

Most athletes are drawn from clubs but the federation is looking to do the same at school level.

“We have been holding our unified sporting competitions at our backyards and using our own calendar for the events.

The athletes without ID join our athletes in cases where we have Unified disciplines but we want to change that and go to schools and competitions organised by these other school federations as a way of encouraging inclusivity, “ said national director Susan Masila.

She added: “The athletes with ID gain a lot of confidence from competing with their peers without an ID. This is also an opportunity to educate the public about ID and change their mindset.

In most instances, these athletes get discriminated because people are not informed about their conditions and capabilities.” Masila said the federation will introduce the unified events in two disciplines, football and athletics next year and keep expanding with time.

“In the next two years we want to have the unified events in all the disciplines played by the other pupils and students.

After this, we will look at having the same incorporated in the East Africa School games,” she said.

Masila was speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural Special Olympics Africa Youth Leadership Summit that concluded in Nairobi on Friday. 

The summit had brought together over 50 youth delegates from 12 countries with the organisers aiming at empowering youth leaders with and without ID through a project dubbed ‘Lead to Include’.                   -LYNETTE MATHEKA

More on News