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Special Olympics Armenia Games for Children with Intellectual Disabilities

Yerevan, October 24, 2005 – On October 25, 2005, Special Olympics Armenia will hold Games for children with intellectual disabilities. More than 150 athletes, including female athletes, will experience a taste of happiness and achievement for the first time in their lives. They will compete in athletics, table tennis and football. The event aims at providing the students with the benefits and opportunities of a quality Special Olympics program in Armenia and increasing the number of young footballers, athletes, regular children and students. Teams from special schools as well as youth affiliated with NGOs working with special needs people will participate at the event.

Special Olympics Armenia athletes will march in the Parade of Athletes at the Opening Ceremony. Honored guests will include representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, Armenian National Olympic Committee, Physical Culture and Sports Committee under the Government of the Republic of Armenia, Yerevan State University, Armenian State Institute of Physical Education and the Football Federation of Armenia. There will be teachers of physical education, school principals and organizations investing in Special Education.

Since 2003, when four athletes competed in Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland; 2004, when two athletes competed in Special Olympics World Festival in Greece and 2005, when two athletes participated in Special Olympics World Winter Games in Japan and these athletes became the first Armenian special athletes to compete in an international sporting event, Special Olympics has been reaching out to people with intellectual disabilities. Despite the fact that there are several NGOs, schools, government agencies that provide support to people with intellectual disabilities in Armenia, children and adults with mental handicaps are still segregated from society and have little or no opportunities to develop physically, emotionally or socially. Special Olympics is an organization that offers hope, friendship, sports, as well as prizes and surprises to people with intellectual disabilities.

Within the framework of the Games, there will be unified events, where people with and without disabilities play on the same team together. The event will increase measurable success in new young athletes, coach recruitment, volunteers and school children. It will improve general community awareness about the abilities of people with intellectual disabilities.

Thirty students of the Armenian State Institute of Physical Education who are majoring in Adaptive Physical Education and who have gone through Special Olympics Volunteer Trainings in spring 2005, will be volunteering during the entire event applying the skills and knowledge gained at the trainings.

The official opening ceremony will be held at 12:00 pm on October 25 in Yerevan Special School # 6 on 17 Acharyan Street and will be followed by games.

Special Olympics, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is the world’s largest international organization that uses sports as a tool for social inclusion of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. With its focus on community-based programming, schools education, health enhancement and public attitude change is a proven vehicle for changing individual lives and communities. More than 1 million athletes in over 150 countries train and compete in 26 Olympic-style summer and winter sports at local, national and international events. Through its sports programs, Special Olympics strives to provide long-term benefits to individuals’ health, self-esteem and social integration.  For more information on Special Olympics Armenia, contact: Artak Israelyan, National Director, Special Olympics Armenia, e-mail: specialolympicsam@yahoo.com

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