TIM SHRIVER, chairman, Special Olympics International, discusses the importance of sports in empowering people with intellectual disabilities
What is your mission in India as head of Special Olympics International and how is it aligned with the larger goals of the movement?
In India, we are trying to make the movement into a powerful source of social and cultural change. Our aim is to end discrimination against peo- ple with intellectual disabilities in this country. And we are trying to do that with the joy of sports and en gagement of healthcare leaders, gov- ernment leaders, business leaders and educators. So they can see, meet and play with our athletes and as a result of that we have come to respect their contribution .the special movement world wide is an period of growth and we intend to seize this movement where inlusion is in our view the most important value at stake on the planet.
How can sports become a vehicle to empower with intellecrtual disabilities and help them integrate better with members of their communities ?
Sports has the powerful capacity to shift the label that a person wears .so this is critical to a new disabilities because their identity is their label and it is negative. They are weaker, vulnerable, less, needy, problematic, sick, and all of their identity labels are negative. But when they come to sports, the identity is positive. This in a sense is the beginning of the change we want to see.\
In what way has the international body provided mentoring support and facilities to Special Olympics Bharat, its Indian counterpart?
We work very closely with our Asia-Pa- cific office, our international office and our Special Olympics Bharat office. Strategy is established at the global level and then adapted and implement- ed at the national level with technical assistance and training from the re- gional level. All of us have a crucial role to play and support one another so that we can learn from the people clos- est to the athletes and also make them hopefully learn from us. When we talk about inclusive education, do you think people lack further which is to change the labels adequate awareness and sensitivity?
Most people look at sports as elite, Sensitivity towards people with inhierarchical, competitive, and intellectual disability globally as well some way, from a nationalis as in India is growing but is still tic point of view. If you ask quite low. I think most people still people in Germany about think a child with intellectual disabilfootball, they want to beat city does not belong in the regular Spain and Italy. If you ask school. Sadly, most people think that people in New York about they are going to diminish learning. baseball, they want to beat What we have seen is that these Boston. If you ask people in children actually teach lessons that India about cricket, they the school otherwise cannot teach: want to beat Pakistan. So they see the lessons of compassion and , lessons of integrity and open this as an oppositional tour. The truth in Special Olympics is that we see it heartedness. You learn from looking in a completely different way. We see it as a horizon as a great gift to not only children with intellectual disability but for those without it.
What has been your impression about special Olympics bharat considering the fact you have met and address a diverse network of stakeholders who have through its expansion?
Special .olympics bharat is bringing the special Olympics experience to the across country with its over hundred thousand coaches. We see leadership youth leadership and the health programmes being developed here.to buiold stronger experience to communicate .but the challenges for me after visiting india –how do we tell the story so that more people understand this.