THE Special Olympics Tanzania (SOT) has launched a Young Athletes programme which involves intellectual challenged children aged between 2 and 7 years.
The programme includes organizing various sport events targeting such group countrywide. SOT Director Charles Rays unveiled in Dar es Salaam yesterday and he insisted that the programme is helping a lot to remove stigma directed towards intellectual disadvantaged children from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
"Young Athletes Programme helps to identity different sport talents that intellectually challenged children have so that we can nurture them until they reach recommendable age to compete in major competitions whether locally or internationally," Rays said.
He added: "Through the programme, awareness among parents and guardians of intellectual disadvantaged kids is improved as they begin to realize how important it is to let children interact with their fellows through sports such that they can be able to do simple sport activities with their children even at home." According to Rays, the programme has been successfully run in Zanzibar, Njombe and Mtwara.
Speaking recently at Kidutani Nursery School in Zanzibar during Young Athletes games (U-7) which attracted intellectual challenged children from various areas of the Isles, the Assistant Secretary of Special Olympics Zanzibar, Tifly Nahoda underscored the importance of allowing intellectual retarded children engage in sport activities with their normal colleagues.
He said it was sad to learn that intellectual challenged children were not given equal playing chances with their fellow children despite the fact that they (intellectually challenged) children can have positive impact in the communities they live in.
"The main aim of organizing Youth Games is to identity crucial talent hidden in these athletes who will later play a big role towards assisting the country to do well in international Special Olympics Games and put the nation on the global map in the process," Nahoda said.