Abu Dhabi residents who turned out in huge numbers to teach their children a thing or two about inclusion.was a show of solidarity for the determined at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games by the
“It is important that children from a young age understand the concept of inclusion. I wanted my kids to witness how these athletes have overcome their mental and physical disabilities,” said British expat Victoria Fell.
The mother of three said she understands how important it is for a society to accept people with special abilities because she had an aunt with Down Syndrome.
“My aunt had to be sent away from the family when she was around three, and institutionalized. Back in that time, there was no support and no choice to care for them.”
“But I am very glad to see that the UAE society is open to inclusion and treat them as part of the same community.”
Indian parents Anisha Batra Chacko and Sunij Chacko were also at the packed Zayed Sports City Stadium with their five-year-old son, Vihaan. Their daughter Arianna is singing in the choir. “It is never too early to learn about inclusion,” said Chacko.
“We are so happy that our daughter could be a part of something so big and so meaningful that teaches them to value humanity. It also encourages them to be friends with others who are different from her yet much stronger than them in many ways,” she said.
For many parents, watching the Special Olympics with their children is also an opportunity to teach them the importance of “not giving up.”
“It is a huge encouragement for children and I want my son to look at these athletes and learn that if they can go out and do it, there is no excuse why he cannot. Giving up is not an option,” said Leah Watson, a Dubai resident.
Sajjan Varkey, a teacher from the Abu Dhabi Indian School, who was at the stadium with a group of his students, could not agree more.
“We are here to show solidarity to the determined. It is also a strong message and life lesson for our children that life will throw up challenges but the real winner does not give up.”
Seventh-grader Ashnel Saldanha said he and his friends were amazed to see the stunning talent and sheer grit shown by the athletes. “It tells us that nothing is impossible.”
“We are all here to support them and also show that we believe in inclusion,” he added.