Special Olympics BC Seeks to Engage South-Asian Community through ‘Try-It Days’ at Khalsa School, Newton
By Scott Howe
Individuals with an intellectual disability around the world face societal stigma, poor health outcomes, and frequently report feelings of social isolation. Here in BC, individuals with an intellectual disability don’t often meet recommended guidelines for physical activities and nutrition, leading to reduced lifespans and poor quality of life.
While the status quo is troubling, there is reason for optimism. The mean age at death for people with Down syndrome – one of many conditions that can result in an intellectual disability – has increased from 9 years in the 1920s to 56 years by the late 1990’s. Such drastic improvements were made possible not just by advancements in medicine, but through inclusion in the community. Civil society has increasingly recognized that when provided with the proper tools and support, individuals with an intellectual disability can lead healthy, happy, and meaningful lives.
Leading the charge for a more inclusive world is Special Olympics, who since 1980 have been operating sports programs in BC for individuals with an intellectual disability of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds. Supported by more than 3600 volunteers, more than 4600 British Columbians with an intellectual disability compete year round in sports ranging from skiing to bowling. Special Olympics athletes are further supported through nutritional training, group workouts, health screenings and leadership training. Worldwide, Special Olympics has become the largest single provider of health services to individuals with an intellectual disability.
Despite the progress made in recent years, Special Olympics BC believes that more can be done! After recognizing that certain communities within BC are underrepresented on their teams, the organization launched its inclusive community’s campaign.
An estimated 1-3% of the population has an intellectual disability and there are more than 100 000 individuals of South Asian decent living in Surrey. As part of the campaign, Special Olympics BC has teamed up with Khalsa School, Newton to initiate a series of ‘try-it days’ aimed at engaging members of the South Asian community living in the Lower Mainland.
Starting on Saturday, May 5th, Khalsa School, Newton has hosted 4 out of the 6 drop ins where members of the community can learn about program offerings, try basic sports skills and speak with members of the South Asian community who are familiar with the organization. Students and staff from the school have been attending as volunteers and actively spread the word in the community. A fair amount of new athletes have registered for the programs so. The participants are as young as 3 and some well into their adult years. The sessions have focused on balance and coordination drills such as the obstacle course, and also worked on sport specific skills including for baseball, basketball and tennis.
“We’re proud to be involved in this meaningful project, as a school, we pride ourselves in our commitment to developing a better tomorrow for our community” says Khalsa Primary Vice-Principal Satinder Bhatia, “I encourage members of the community to spread the word and motivate their friends and family to attend!” Khalsa Schools are a collection of Sikh Independent Schools with a strong record of participation in sports and academic achievement.
Individuals interested in attending the event are encouraged to contact Chelsea Rogers at Special Olympics BC via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (604.802.4226). For more information about Special Olympics BC and its program offerings, please visit www.specialolympics.bc.ca.