March 06, 2017 | Asia Pacific: Pakistan

From the Mountains of Gilgit to Austria

By Sarah Amin Ali

Parvez is perhaps one of the toughest athletes at Special Olympics Pakistan. He is the sole bread winner of his family and works as a laborer in a wheat field in Gilgit.View Story Parvez is perhaps one of the toughest athletes at Special Olympics Pakistan. Parvez is the sole bread winner of his family and works as a laborer in a wheat field in Gilgit. He walks to the field 10 to 12 KM daily, carrying freshly cut wheat on his back. This has perhaps contributed to him being an excellent athlete, with incredible stamina, making him even better at snowshoeing! While it was difficult for him to get along with others initially, he has now become one of the most caring athletes we have had the pleasure of witnessing. He also has a very strong bond with his coach Amna Baig accompanying him to the games.  Parvez is referred to as “Captain” at the training camps. Whenever he is down, sick or simply not in the mood to train, the nickname “Captain” does the trick and he works 10 times harder than he normally does! His only concerns are his mother’s health and making her proud of his achievements.

About Sarah Amin Ali: Sarah Ali has been on the staff of Special Olympics Pakistan for 2 years. She leads the Young Athletes Program and is a soccer coach.
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August 18, 2016 | Asia Pacific: Pakistan

Pakistan launches mobile app for Young Athletes

By Genevieve Jiang

Special Olympics Pakistan has launched a mobile app for Young Athletes, providing teachers and parents easy access to resources and information.View Story Special Olympics Pakistan has launched a mobile app for Young Athletes, providing teachers and parents easy access to resources and information. The app will guide them through activities that are part of the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. Young Athletes is a sport and play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old. Young Athletes introduces basic sport skills, like running, kicking and throwing. Young Athletes helps ensure that every child, with or without intellectual disabilities, gets an opportunity to play at home, at a park or at school. Caregivers are given step-by-step instructions which take them through the Young Athletes curriculum. It ranges from basic skills, such as walking, to advanced skills for different sports. Activities include climbing, throwing, jumping and maintaining balance. The app, which has been successfully launched in Pakistan, will be introduced at Special Olympics Pakistan's Young Athletes seminars to reach out to teachers from various Special Education Institutes. The Young Athletes app encourages parents and teachers to get involved in their child’s progress and play a role in their development. The children can develop different sporting skills and abilities from this app. Parents can then put their children in formal training sessions once they get through the Advanced level of the app. Special Olympics Pakistan hopes to reach out to a total of 800 parents by the end of 2016. The app is available for download on Google Play.

About Genevieve Jiang: I am Senior Manager, Communications and Development, at Special Olympics Asia Pacific
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April 11, 2016 | Asia Pacific: Pakistan

Our Biggest Barrier is Social Attitude

By Ronak Lakhani

"My life so far has been very challenging with many ups and downs," said Haseeb Abbasi of Pakistan. He was standing on the TedX stage in Lahore.View Story "My life so far has been very challenging with many ups and downs," said Haseeb Abbasi of Pakistan. He was standing on the TedX stage in Lahore. "In villages of our country, most people with intellectual disabilities never get a chance at happiness, never get a chance to learn, never get the opportunity to play. Love and acceptance are missing from their lives." Haseeb told the story of his own life, how he found talking so difficult that he felt isolated at school. But he persisted, and discovered something about himself through Special Olympics leadership training. "Special Olympics Pakistan gave me courage, confidence and the power to compete," Haseeb said. He's now using the story of his life to change the way people in Pakistan perceive people with disabilities. "In Pakistan society, a person who is born with an intellectual disability may be perceived as suffering imposed by Allah. The family of them thinks they have been punished for some misdeed. So many of us are left out and even denied access to the most basic services, like health and education. instead of sending us to the few special education schools that exist in Pakistan, we are kept at home." He has found success at school and in Special Olympics sports and leadership programs, but he is like everyone else. "Everyone struggles and has difficulty with something. We do struggle with our lives, but the biggest barrier in our lives is the social attitude," Haseeb said. "We need to move away from a culture of sympathy and pity." And that is why he was on that stage in Lahore. Watch his full presentation on YouTube at the link below.

About Ronak Lakhani: I am the General Secretary on the board of Special Olympics Pakistan. I have been involved with the movement since 1989 when I was a volunteer at the first City Games in Karachi.
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