Gold – Silver – Bronze
The Intellectually Challenged Flying Heavenward – And Descending Right Into Kangaroo-Land – Australia!!! The Sky Is The Limit!!!! Transcending National Boundaries!!!!
What was formerly considered Impossible became Possible with practice, time and effort. The children from Rural interior villages who were Intellectually Impaired Athletes won the gold, silver and bronze medals at the ASIA PACIFIC SPECIAL OLYMPIC sports held at New Castle Australia from 27th November 2013 to 8th December 2013.
Here is an example of the spontaneous REALIZATION OF one of the UNCRPD principles: “Full and effective participation and inclusion in society – Equality of opportunity- Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the rights of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.” Our effort via the Community Based Rehabilitation and Development program worked towards achieving this.
Special Olympic Bharath Karnataka invited Intellectually Disabled children from GASS and Adults to participate in the Special sports organized at Bangalore and GASS used this opportunity for enabling the Intellectually Disabled children to have a new experience in the year 2009. This was continued every year and Intellectually Disabled children participated and won prizes at sports conducted at various places like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Ananthapur.
- Special Olympics Bharath Karnataka organized district level sports competition at Doddaballapur and 300 children and adults participated in the various activities. The selected 24 winners were from the sports played at the State Level in Bangalore. Again 12 of the winners were selected from the State to participate at the National level sports which were held in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Among them were 4 winners – Hazeera, Shantala, Kiran Kumar and Naveen Kumar who were all from GASS and selected to play at the SPECIAL OLYMPICS ASIA PACIFIC (SOAP) REGIONAL GAMES held at New Castle, Australia from 28 November to 8 December 2013.
- GASS team consisting of Intellectually Disabled children and adults were surprised to know that 4 Athletes and one coach were selected from the Bangalore rural district, in the CBR project area of GASS which is supported by CBM.
- Since this golden opportunity knocked at the door of intellectually challenged athletes, GASS decided to raise funds for this particular event because the UNCRPD needed to become a reality for children with intellectual disability who lived in rural villages. It was quite a challenging task for GASS to mobilize funds and GASS used the techniques learnt from one of the fund raising workshops to raise funds for the SOAP since SOB had announced that there would be no sponsorship of athletes or coaches either from the central government or from Special Olympics Bharath for the children to participate at the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Games.
Brief Background of Athletes:
Naveen Kumar: 20 yrs old – has a diagnosis of Down syndrome: Naveen belongs to Veerapura village, Doddaballapur Taluk, Bangalore Rural district. He has two sisters and his parents live in a rented house. His father is a security guard at a factory and his mother is a house wife. He joined SAMARTH Hostel which is run by GASS for Children with special needs and completed his 7th Standard under the SSA scheme. Since he reached the age of 20, the school could not continue with his admission. He is interested in sports and he participates regularly at various places.
Kiran Kumar: 20 yrs old – has a diagnosis of intellectual disability. He is the eldest son in the family and has two sisters. His parents are engaged as laborers. They have ½ an acre of land. The Govt. has sanctioned a house as part of a 3% grant for PwDs to Kiran Kumar from the local Gram-Panchayat and his parental family is living in the same house. He is part of the GASS’s CBR program.
Hazeera: 14 yrs old – has a diagnosis of Intellectual disability. She is in an inclusive education program of GASS studying in 8th Std at a village in Doddaballapur. Her father left the family and started wandering in various places. He comes to the family once in 6 months and runs away within a short period. Her Mother rolls Beedis to make a living. She has two sisters and one elder brother. Her elder sister goes to the garment factory. They are staying in a rented house. Her brother goes to a Garage that repairs two wheelers.
Shantala: 20 yrs old – has a diagnosis of Intellectual disability. She hails from Gedre village, Gowribidnur Taluk, Chikkaballapur district. Her father expired when she was 13 yrs old. Her mother works to earn her daily wages. Shantala has one elder sister who got married. When her mother went out of the house to earn her daily wages Shantala was left alone in the house and she was being physically harassed by unknown people. So, she was admitted into the SAMARTH hostel run by GASS.
Basavaraj Naik: Coach: He was trained by SOBK along with the athletes to assess skills and to train the intellectually challenged Athletes in various games.
The GASS team faced hardships in getting passports for two people who were below 18 yrs since their parents had no passport – it was a challenge to obtain the passports for these beneficiaries who were so talented. The commissioner for disability – Mr.K.V.Rajanna’s – timely support helped the team get passports at the right time.
Preparation for sports started since 4 months and the Athletes were continuously provided coaching and made to practice. The SOB had organized a Preparation and Selection camp at Chennai and Hyderabad and these beneficiaries of GASS got selected.
The athletes were provided with Track pants, Sports shoes, and other sports materials. The farewell was given by a Doddaballapur MLA Shri. Venkataramanaiah and other well wishers on 26th of November 2013 and the athletes flew to Australia- New Castle.
Our GASS Athletes who were from very remote and Interior rural villages were amazed to see the AIR PORT – to go on FLIGHT – and travel to a foreign country. They were rather excited to be narrating about their trip to Australia. Shantala who was to win the gold medal later even said to Madam Amali “MADAM WE WENT RIGHT INTO THE SKY”. Their excitement and happiness were immeasurable.
SOAP: 32 countries participated in Special Olympic Asia Pacific which had a total of 2500 participants. Intellectually Disabled Children were so thrilled and expressed their happiness as they were taken for site seeing one day. During their stay at Australia they watched the Australian cultural program, and took part in the get-together for all the Participants. They met People from various countries with different skin complexions and features. 400 intellectually challenged athletes went from India to play at the SOAP. Each athlete had an opportunity to participate in two events.
Athletes from GASS:
- Hazeera won 2 gold medals in Athletics,
- Shantala won a gold medal in Athletics,
- Kiran Kumar won a silver medal in ”Booche” and
- Naveen Kumar won a Bronze medal in “Booche”.
No one expected that all the four Athletes would win medals at the sports competition. All of them were so excited and got back to India on the 8th December night 2013. The following day the Press and the Media published the success of the Athletes in the daily newspaper. All the Athletes and coach were honored by the Public, PwDs and the MLA of Doddaballapur Shri. Venkataramanaiah on 31st December during the celebration of World Disabled Day
We were able to achieve all that has been mentioned above and become a major success because of our Partnership with CBM which Sponsored GASS Athletes to play at SOAP.