Special Olympics Asia Pacific and FWD Group today launched a three-year partnership to support young people with intellectual disabilities throughout Asia in Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan.
FWD’s investment will sponsor Special Olympics’ Unified Schools and Athlete Leadership programmes:
- The Unified Schools programme will engage 12,000 young people through workshops that address negative perceptions of people with intellectual disabilities. It will unify 90 schools and communities through 240 sports and non-sports events to celebrate inclusion and acceptance.
- The Athlete Leadership programme will mentor 300 athletes with intellectual disabilities to develop skills that help them at both work and in their daily lives. It will also train 200 mentors to support them. In addition, Special Olympics will establish partnerships with employment agencies to help athletes with intellectual disabilities learn leadership skills and find employment.
Huynh Thanh Phong, FWD Group Chief Executive Officer said, “FWD wants to help lead positive change by encouraging social inclusion and advocating equal opportunities for people with disabilities. We would like to thank our partner Special Olympics for helping us bring to life our Community Care vision to empower people to live fulfilled lives across Asia. Together, we hope to increase awareness, encourage inclusion, and create a future with a difference for people with intellectual disabilities into the community.”
Dr John Dow Jr., Special Olympics Asia Pacific Chief of Regional & Program Operations, Acting President and Managing Director, said, “I am heartened and encouraged by our new partnership with FWD for their support for Unified Sports and our Athlete Leaders. When dealing with an issue like intellectual disability, the right partner will help turn the tide. With their strong regional presence, FWD is poised to make a difference to our athletes in many of our Programs and I am happy to welcome them to the Special Olympics family. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with FWD helping us build an inclusive society on behalf of our athletes and their families.”
Globally, 15% of the world lives with a disability1. Of these, more than 200 million2 have an intellectual disability making them one of the world’s biggest disability groups and one of the most underserved populations. People with intellectual disability face enormous attitudinal, structural and logistical barriers to obtaining healthcare and getting a job. These compounding factors mean that many struggle with poverty and have significantly shorter lifespans than the general population.
These are the societal barriers that Special Olympics seeks to redress. While sport is the conduit, the goal of Special Olympics is to pave the way for their athletes to live up to their fullest potential after they step off the playing field. Now midway through their 5-year Global Strategic Plan and marking their 50-year anniversary worldwide, the movement has plans to aggressively expand their network of athlete leaders around the globe, increase the number of schools engaged in Unified Sports and to develop training modules that will help prepare athletes to join the workforce.