On the United Nation’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, Special Olympics celebrates its partnership with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation (Laureus). Throughout the last decade, the two organizations have relied on collaboration to mark the largest impact on sport for development and peace globally.
Laureus Sport for Good currently supports over 200 programs in over 40 countries, using the power of sport to transform lives, just like Special Olympics. Laureus Sport for Good’s mission includes five social focus areas: health and wellbeing, education, women and girls, employability, an inclusive society, and a peaceful society.
Since 2011, Laureus has worked with individual Special Olympics Programs providing support in multiple regions including Africa, Asia Pacific, East Asia, and Europe Eurasia.
Beginning in 2018, Laureus expanded its partnership with Special Olympics International to cover multiple initiatives with the overall goal to improve sport quality and quality of life for individuals with and without intellectual disabilities in China, Nigeria, and Russia. In 2019, the partnership between Laureus and Special Olympics International deepened, adding projects with Special Olympics Tokyo to the existing portfolio of grant programs.
This year, Laureus is again providing strategic funding to key Special Olympics programs and will be supporting projects in China, South Korea, and Tokyo. We are excited to implement the following projects across three locations in 2020:
Special Olympics China will focus on expanding Unified Tennis opportunities for over 200 students with and without intellectual disabilities and will be conducting quarterly physical activity tests to ensure the athletes are growing physically and mentally throughout the project. The project will also prioritize skill enhancement, with a portion of funds being dedicated to coach development and training.
In addition, the work in China seeks to address the attitudes of participants to positively impact the way people view and interact with those with intellectual disabilities in their schools and communities. Throughout the year, hundreds of students across China will be impacted by the program—creating a ripple effect of inclusion and acceptance.
Special Olympics Korea has demonstrated a commitment to coach development and the proven benefits of certified coach training. Laureus is supporting the delivery of Coach Developer Training for Special Olympics Korea that aims to bring Special Olympics Korea closer to the target of one trained coach for every 10 Special Olympics athletes.
The Coach Developer Training provides an efficient, cost-effective and sustainable mechanism for the training of coach developers that allows continuous coaching education. The program will train 15 coach developers who will continue to spread the techniques they learned to other coaches after the initial training is complete.
An additional goal is to ensure that at least 40% of the coach developers who are trained are female. Special Olympics International will work with Special Olympics Korea and the coach developers to encourage and support the recruitment of female coaches through grant funding.
Special Olympics Tokyo is also working to increase female participation, focusing their attention on high-school aged female athletes. Through their partnership with Laureus, Special Olympics Tokyo has designed a program to meet the needs and interests identified by the female participants.
Additionally, research has indicated that male athletes are seeking greater expertise and athletic challenges from their coaches. Special Olympics Tokyo will work with a local high school to provide Unified training for athletes with and without disabilities at a higher level than they are experiencing currently. This program will be supported by volunteers and coaches who will be trained through Special Olympics Nippon’s Certified Coach and Volunteer Training.
The partnership between Special Olympics International and Laureus Sport for Good demonstrates the ability of sport to transcend barriers of discrimination and inequality. Together, both organizations will continue to use sport as a vehicle for change, growing inclusive Unified sport, dedicating resources to improving coach training, increasing female involvement of coaches and athletes, and improving sport quality.
Special Olympics is proud of the long-term partnership with Laureus Sport for Good and grateful for the critical funding provided to so many impactful programs over the last decade. The support of Laureus enables Special Olympics International to further expand and enhance athletic opportunities for people with and without intellectual disabilities across the globe, helping to achieve our shared goal of changing the world through sport.