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The UPS Foundation progresses inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities with US $92K grant to Special Olympics in Asia

Two young athletes finishing a course.
Research from Special Olympics has shown children with ID experienced a seven month gain in motor skills from participating in Young Athletes programming.

In a world where the need for inclusion is increasingly urgent, The UPS Foundation has pledged US$92K to support Special Olympics Young Athletes programming, an early childhood play program for children with and without intellectual disabilities (ID), ages 2 to 7 years old across Asia. In addition, the grant will also go towards other Special Olympics sports programming in the region.

The grant supports the redevelopment of Special Olympics programming in 2024 in Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. The UPS Foundation’s grant will be instrumental in rebuilding programs devastated by the pandemic and will reach about 700 children, 300 parents and siblings, and recruit 180 coaches.

In addition, UPS employee volunteers will work closely with Special Olympics affiliates to support events and raise awareness of people with intellectual disabilities at the organizational level as well as in the wider community.

Young girl tossing beanbags into hoops.
The UPS Foundation has funded Young Athletes programming across Asia, including Special Olympics Malaysia as pictured here.

“The UPS Foundation is proud to partner with Special Olympics in Asia to champion inclusivity for children and adults with intellectual disabilities across the Asia Pacific region,” said Nikki Clifton, President of Social Impact and The UPS Foundation. “Our support for the Young Athletes program reflects our commitment to creating a more equitable and just world where everyone can thrive.”

Special Olympics is grateful for UPS's generous sponsorship, in bringing the Young Athletes program to more families who have young children with intellectual disabilities across Asia, so that they realize the importance of early intervention and can benefit from it, remarks Freda Fung, Special Olympics East Asia Regional President and Managing Director.

“We are grateful for the partnership with UPS, which will have a positive and lasting impact on inclusive community development”, she adds.

People with intellectual disabilities tend to face a harsh reality of social, political and cultural discrimination, spanning the full spectrum from stigma, exclusion to social isolation, notes Dipak Natali, Regional President and Managing Director of Special Olympics Asia Pacific.

Woman helping young girl to jump in obstacle course.
Big leap forward for a young girl from Special Olympics Indonesia participating in Young Athletes, one of the early childhoods play programs funded by the UPS Foundation in Asia.

Initiatives like Young Athletes can help bridge the gap. “We know that after two months of participation in Young Athletes program, children with ID experienced a seven month gain in motor skills. Participants also improved motor skills at twice the rate of children who do not participate,” he says.

Inclusive play has an essential role in helping communities with limited exposure to people with intellectual disabilities, better understand and accept others. This is vital in cultivating and progressing a more inclusive world for future generations, he explains.

Witness how Special Olympics Young Athletes programming can positively shape lives as evident in the story of Hadbaa and her mum, Noraini Amin.

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