Windhoek-Experiencing joy, demonstrating courage, strengthening self-confidence, developing friendships between people with and without mental impairment, expanding skills and thereby increasing fitness – these are just a few points that are accentuated in the work of the Special Olympics sports organisation.
The national association, the Special Olympics Namibia (SON), was founded in 1998 and promotes the involvement of mentally impaired teenagers and adults, as well as strengthening their social participation through sport.
SON board member Peter Wilson initiated an exemplary cooperation project at the beginning of the year that saw 14 mentally impaired teenagers selected to participate as floorball athletes at the Special Olympic World Winter Games in Austria this month.
In line with the main objectives of the Special Olympics to bring people with and without intellectual impairment together, so they could learn from each other while breaking down barriers, the perfect partners had to be found.
In addition to 14 athletes of Môreson School and Dagbreek Schools for the Intellectually Impaired, four teenagers without impairment were also chosen form the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek (DHPS) and Shifidi Secondary School respectively, to take part in the Special Olympic World Winter Games this year.
“For us it is important to bring together athletes and teenagers with and without mental impairment, from different schools and cultures”, Wilson said, adding that he himself is a DHPS’ school father. Wilson enthused about the cooperation and commitment of DHPS Principal Madam Eichholz and sports instructor Thorsten Horenburg.
“The DHPS is a school for all. All learners benefit from the diversity of nations, cultures, languages and also of abilities,” Principal Madam Eichholz said.
“Our school’s primary objective is to enable every learner to gain the support which meets their needs and abilities. This is done through inclusive lessons, complimented by the extra-curricular setting – hence we are very proud of the cooperation with Special Olympics athletes and grateful to be part of the project,” she said.
The learners are currently training diligently twice a week and are eagerly looking forward to their trip to the Special Olympics. “We keep our fingers crossed for the young athletes and wish them every success and above all, unforgettable, shared experiences,” she added.