Chairmant of Special Olympics Rwanda, Pastor Deus Sangawa has urged parents to involve children with intellectual disability in sports activities, adding that it would go a long way to help them live a normal life.
Sangwa made the call on Wednesday during the celebrations to mark ‘Eunice Kennedy Shriver’ Day that was held at Group Scholar Rukingu in Rulindo district.
The annual ‘Shriver Day’ is celebrated around the world, for bringing together people with and without mental disabilities through sports. The movement unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of former U.S. President John Kennedy, exemplifies the difference one person can make in the lives of others, and in the quality of all our lives, she also introduced the games for disabled to become accepted and valued members of their communities.
“What this implies is that people, especially the parents should not keep their mentally disabled children at home, instead they should bring them out so that they can discover their hidden talent on top of engaging with other children,” he told the gathering.
During the celebration, more than 200 children were involved in different sports activities.
“Some of the children with intellectual disability have talent but the only way it can be discovered is through engaging them in sports,” Sangwa told the parents, urging them not to hide the affected children.
In 2013, the Special Olympics signed a three-year contract with the Ministry of Sports and Culture to launch a commitment to improving the lives of individuals with mental disabilities in Rwanda.
“I didn’t think that mentally disabled people and children can engage in sports but it’s amazing to see them enjoy themselves like normal people,” said Noheli Tuyisenge of Mbogo sector in Rulindo, after a football match.
In 2015, during the World Special Olympics Games held in Los Angeles, Rwanda was represented by five intellectually disabled athletes.
They participated in athletics, aquatics and athletics half-marathon. More than 6,500 athletes from 165 countries part took in the games.
Sangwa disclosed that they plan to send over 50 athletes for the 2019 World Special Olympic Summer Games slated in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.