As the country prepares to commemorate the 2017 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) whose theme is “Transforming towards Sustainable and Resilient Society for All”, Special Olympics Zambia (SOZ) will hold the “Unified Sports Day” at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) on 2nd December, 2017.
The event will see 350 persons with and without intellectual disabilities ‘crowd’ the OYDC to participate in Unified football, Bocce, Fun and Movement Games, Shuttle relay and most importantly undergo health checks.
The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia Esther Lungu, who was recently honored as the Special Olympics “50th Anniversary Ambassador” for Africa region during the 2017 “Leadership Academy” held in Lusaka, Zambia at the OYDC will be the guest of honor for the “Unified Sports Day”. Others expected to be present and participate in various activities include the UNICEF Country Representative, Officials from the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development, Ministry of Education, Community Leaders, Lions Club officials, ESPN, Sport in Action and Red Cross.
Special Olympics Zambia (SOZ) National Director William Sikapanda says “The Unified Sports Day event is designed to draw much needed attention to the rights of People with disabilities, and their families, by promoting the tenets of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC), as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD)”.
In addition, Sikapanda, disclosed that his organisation has since 2012 made steady progress and registered a number of successes both at local and international level with over 1,000 teachers and community coaches having been engaged while over 3,000 athletes have participated in various sports activities.
He called on community members and families with persons with intellectual disabilities to come to the event and have free access to free health screenings and take part in various activities lined up. Sikapanda, however appealed to the public and the corporate world to support the event to be successful and memorable by bringing joy to persons with intellectual disabilities.
Some of the successes SOZ, has recorded in the last few years include the participation in the, 2007, 2011 and 2015 world games making it with the most medal counts Zambia has ever won at a major event, minting 2 Gold medals, 1Bronze and 1 Silver medals.
One of the athletes that brought honors to Zambia is Daisy Nguni, who won silver in the 100 Metres athletics at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Her contribution to the change of perceptions and treatment of persons with intellectual disabilities has been highly significant.
Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports.
Special Olympics also believes that through millions of individual acts of inclusion where people with and without intellectual disabilities are brought together, long-standing myths are dispelled, negative attitudes changed and new opportunities to embrace and celebrate people with intellectual disabilities are created.