Due to lockdowns over the past several months, athletes around the world are facing new challenges in participating in regular exercise, skill, and endurance building. Athletes with and without intellectual disabilities are finding new ways of getting physical activity. This has been no different in Kenya where Special Olympics Kenya (SOK), through the Special Olympics Unified Sports program, has creatively supported their athletes in adapting to the ‘new normal’ during COVID-19 containment measures.
The resources were designed to be utilized with flexibility, giving Programs the opportunity to integrate and implement the resources in a way that aligns with their current goals and objectives.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, SOK designed and produced videos to support those who are facing cramped conditions, lack of movement, and long days at home. These videos, part of the Special Olympics ‘Fit 5’ program, help to engage individuals in flexible exercises as well as proper fruit, vegetable, and water intake throughout a given week. Each component of Fit Five is designed to easily be done at home, including in cramped spaces, and most importantly can be done as a family group exercise!
In September, the Fit Five program landed on Kenya’s EDU-TV Channel as part of SOK’s national Fitness Challenge. The EDU-TV Channel is part of Kenya’s Institute of Curriculum Development under the Ministry of Education and is the only digital education channel in Kenya, enhancing equity and access to quality educational content. Led by a local Special Olympics coach, Vincent Muigai, and Special Olympics athlete, Shalel Tennah, the eight-minute lessons contained health and fitness components such as hydration, COVID-19 protection measures, and exercises in endurance, strength, and flexibility. Even with many students home because of COVID-19 containment measures, the broadcast of this video continues SOK’s work to spread a message of inclusion through sport and fitness. Through this partnership with the Ministry of Education and Kenya’s Institute of Curriculum Development, this national broadcast brought Special Olympics Kenya programming to athletes with and without intellectual disabilities across the entire nation.
With support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Play Unified: Learn Unified project is working to engage over 20,000 youth in Kenya, with 141 Unified Schools participating in the project.