This is an excerpt on the op-ed titled Oped: Rajah Sy on People With Disabilities – “Responses To Covid-19 Must Be Inclusive” originally published online by New African Woman.
When I first volunteered as the National Director of Special Olympics Senegal there were only six athletes. This programme has since grown exponentially, now counting over 3,000 athletes and more than 400 volunteers and support staff. Together, we are breaking the stigma surrounding disability. However, we would not be able to realize these goals without the support of others.
That is why we decided to work with Stay Safe Africa, a campaign launched by Dakar-based advocacy tank Speak Up Africa that seeks to protect communities from COVID-19 through the promotion of proven prevention methods. We worked together to provide 500 face masks, designed by Senegalese fashion brand Tongoro, to protect our athletes, their families and coaches. This contribution was so vital for us as the COVID-19 virus is spread through droplets which can be easily inhaled, and those with intellectual disabilities are at even great risk of developing serious complications from the disease. These contributions were further valued as they effectively highlighted the ways vulnerable populations can be cared for.