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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, July 1: Special Olympics (SO) Sarawak plans to spread to other parts of the State to further empower people with special needs through sports and physical activities.
Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Well Being Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said currently, there are 830 athletes involved in SO Sarawak along with 100 unified partners and 100 coaches.
“The mission of SO Sarawak is to provide year round sports training as well as organisation of various sports competitions for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“SO provides a platform for special needs people to continue developing their physical fitness, build their courage, experience joy and involvement in sharing of skills and friendship,” she said.
She highlighted this when addressing the launching of Azman Hashim Community Sports Centre and the 6th Edition of Special Olympics Sarawak by Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg in Sibu Jaya, Sibu tonight through Ukas’ live broadcast.
Noting that the society today is more understanding and accepting of people with disabilities, Fatimah, who is also SO Sarawak chairperson, however emphasised that there must be continuous efforts and support in creating awareness that disability is not a personal deficit.
“It is a social responsibility where everyone can be supported to continue to live fully and independently with dignity.
“Hopefully, SO Sarawak will be a platform to foster integrity and inclusion in differences and at the same time, continue to uphold the spirit of sportsmanship among athletes and the community,” she added.
The SO Sarawak was established in 1998 and officially registered on Aug 2, 2001. Today, there are SO branches set up in Kuching, Miri and Sibu.
On the two-day Special Olympics Sarawak State Games which will start tomorrow (July 2), Fatimah informed the 6th edition involves 360 athletes, 154 volunteers and 106 coaches.
The athletes will be competing in seven events namely swimming, bowling, tracks and fields, bocce, football, badminton and table tennis.
Fatimah also thanked all the volunteers for making the Healthy Athlete Programme (HAP) at the Special Olympics village a success.
Led by SO Healthy Athletes Programme director Toh Chiew Hock, some 110 specialist doctors, medical and dental officers, nurses and therapists are involved.
“Our clinical directors flew in from Kuching and Miri, who are also here in Sibu, to help screen and provide health education to our athletes and their coaches in the form of dental, hearing, vision, nutrition, BP, feet care, general fitness, joints and muscles strengths and physical examination.
“If we are to translate these seven services which are worth RM840 for each athlete into ringgit to the needs of all the 450 athletes, it will total up to RM378,000.
“In addition, free lenses, and goodies such as biscuits, fruits, MOMA drinking water, milk, towels, dental kits, toys and breakfast cereals worth more than RM10,000 are ready for distribution to all athletes who complete the HAP,” she said.
Amongst those present were the Premier’s wife Datuk Amar Jumaani Tun Tuanku Bujang, Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Dudong assemblyman Dato Sri Tiong King Sing, acting State Secretary Datuk Mohamad Abu Bakar Mardzuki and AmCorp Group Bhd executive chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim. — DayakDaily