Special Olympics Kenya has teamed up with American-based organisation Golisano Foundation in an ambitious programme aimed at providing equal opportunities for young athletes living with intellectual disability.
Under the programme, the US-based organisation will support programmes run by Special Olympics Kenya and which target athletes living with intellectual disability.
Among other things, the partnership will cover health issues, sports fitness, nutrition and health education. Golisano Foundation and Special Olympics Kenya will roll out the programme as part of Special Olympics Healthy Community Initiative.
Speaking during the launch at Nkaimurunya Primary School in Kajiado County on Tuesday, Golisano Foundation’s Executive Director Ann Costello, emphasised the importance of prioritising health issues among athletes with intellectual disabilities.
"Our foundation is devoted to helping people with intellectual disabilities by supporting organisations such as Special Olympics. We feel these athletes have tremendous potential which is not fully realized for one reason or another," she said.
Nkaimurunya Primary School has benefited from the programme.
Costello observed that it was difficult for athletes with intellectual disability to access health care not only in Kenya, but also in the United States where her organisation is based.
"We have partnered with Special Olympics to launch Healthy Communities Initiative. Through this programme, we give grants to countries and regions to help families and athletes deal with health
issues, everything from proper nutrition, sports fitness to health education. Educating the parents on the importance of good health for their loved ones with intellectual disabilities is very important. Often, people with intellectual disabilities are sidelined and forgotten," added Costello.
Costello and Special Olympics Regional Director Charles Nyambe interacted with athletes with intellectual disabilities and their parents in Kajiado County on Tuesday.
"Our program in Kenya is in its fifth year now and from the good work we have witnessed, we will make plans on how to expand the programme. We have a wonderful Special Olympics programme here in Kenya which is not just a model for Africa but for the whole world and I believe the athletes deserve the best," Costello observed.
Nyambe lauded the foundation for the partnership. "Special Olympics Kenya is one of the best programmes we have in Africa. We have seen them shine in their competitions and I think partnering
with the Golisano Foundation is a big boost to our athletes.”