Athletes with disabilities from Anantapur get 17 medals at the 2015 Special Olympics
- Athletes from Anantapur that were trained by the Vicente Ferrer Foundation and that represented India at the 2015 Special Olympics obtained a total of 17 medals: three gold, five silver and nine bronze.
The thirteen athletes are part of a project that intends to fight against stigmas against people with intellectual disabilities in rural India. Through sports, the beneficiaries demonstrate their capabilities and achieve social recognition. The Special Olympics concluded yesterday, after a week long of competitions in which over 7.000 athletes from over 170 countries got to participate. They are seven girls and 6 boys ranging in ages from 14 to 24 that competed in disciplines of badminton, volleyball, basketball, soccer, ping pong and weightlifting.
Sports as a way to achieve inclusion and recognition
The foundation started the program Sports and Disability in 2010 with the goal of empowering one of most punished collective in India: people with intellectual disabilities. This situation is especially serious in the context of extreme poverty in rural areas, where they are considered as a family load and in many cases, mistreated and abandoned to their own luck.
The program is giving excellent results since Sports are tools with enormous power that contributes to foster self-esteem, social skills and personal development and improvement. The foundation is becoming in one of the most important sports center for people with disabilities in the country. Out of the 34 athletes that participate in the organization's project, 13 have been selected to attend the Special Olympics in Los Angeles. In total, this 34 boys and girl from different towns in Anantapur are part of a more ambitious initiative to achieve their complete autonomy through social-labor inclusion. The athletes that participate in this training receive parallel professional development classes that give them tools that facilitate access to a job as soon as they are done with their sports and this way they can contribute to support the family.
The VFF has demonstrated that, through these competitions, participants with intellectual disabilities improve their physical and psychological health, and in the care of the youngsters from rural India, they become in real examples and obtain social recognition in their villages that benefit the community in general. Their experiences demonstrate that limitations are only in the mind, concludes Moncho Ferrer.
Athletes with presence in the podium
In January 2010, Vicente Ferrer Foundation and Special Olympics Bharat-Andhra Pradesh, with the collaboration from the Anantapur government, organize the National Championship of Athleticism. In the summer of 2011, two female athletes from the foundation represented India in the Athens Special Olympics, in Greece, and they won 4 medals in athletics. Two years later, two girls from Anantapur participated in the South Korea Games, and they obtained 2 medals in hockey. In December 2013, 21 athletes and 3 coaches from VFF represented India in the Asia-Pacific Games, celebrated in New Castle, Australia, in that event, the boys and girls from the foundation obtained 26 medals in athletics, soccer, badminton and weightlifting.
News - What‘s happening?
Anne Ferrer, who has been working as a social worker in rural parts of Andhra Pradesh, received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award 2015 for her contribution in the field of development and welfare of Women and Children in India.
The telephone rings. It is the 1,098 time the VFF staff in India answer the urgent needs of the community using the anonymous help line. 24 hours, 7 days a week urgent calls of a wide variety come in and much needed support is given immediately.