Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Once Excluded, Ablaye Is Now ‘One of Us’

Ableye dancing and celebrating on the court.

Ablaye Ndiaye is one of the stars of his neighborhood in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. Yet, years ago, he was mostly an outcast due to negative beliefs and stereotypes about people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities.  

Senegal is a country with no inclusive public schools; so young learners like Ablaye are turned away when they can’t keep up their grades. But Ablaye’s family didn’t give up on him, nor did his friends. Soon everyone in the neighborhood got to know him—and accept him, then respect him—for all the talents he has.  

As his sister recalls, “Our neighbors grew up with him. Maybe from the first sight at the beginning, other people were afraid of his physical appearance. It hurt me when I saw him being treated differently.”  

She adds, “But when we took him to Special Olympics sports practice, we all noticed that he was able to do great things.” She says that Ablaye would proudly show everyone his medals after each competition—and people began to realize he had many talents.  

In addition to his success in sports, Ablaye has trained as a construction worker and is able to help support his family thanks to this job. He’s now also part of the local social scene. As a friend puts it, “Ablaye is like our elder brother. He is part of the café group, and we consider him like one of us. We live in perfect harmony.” All of Ablaye’s friends and family are cheering him on, as he trains for Team Senegal’s unified basketball team at his first Special Olympics World Games in Berlin!  

Read about more Champions!

Taking “Play Unified” to the Next Level

Special Olympics is all about bringing out the best in everyone. Special Olympics Unified Sports, which brings together people with and without intellectual disabilities, takes this transformation to another level. Now, meet a Unified Basketball team from Florida, USA that’s taking the power of “playing unified” to the global level at the 2023 World Games in Berlin.
2 Min Read

World Games Spotlight: Rehan Ali, Libya

Rehan grew up in a part of Libya where people with Down syndrome face widespread discrimination in education, training, and even medical care. Early on, her family had to cope with stigma and her rejection from society.
1 Min Read

World Games Spotlight: Anas Khalil Al-Zerba, Palestine

Anas Al-Zerba has made a name for himself as a role model for people with intellectual disabilities, for people with Down syndrome—and for everybody else!
1 Min Read

World Games Spotlight: Ella Curtis, Great Britain

It's been a hard road for Ella to become a cycling champion—literally. At age six, she had a traumatic fall from her bike; for years, the fear of falling and of the pain never left her. Ella, who has Down syndrome, was terrified and would shake with fear at even the suggestion of a bike ride.
1 Min Read