Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi is a sign of progress

Article Image

Brittany Tagliareni and Ryan Smith is a young couple that met five years ago and is due to take part in the Special Olympics World Games.

Posted: Mar 14, 2019 3:40 PM
Updated: Mar 14, 2019 3:40 PM

Before they met and became friends in Washington last December, Tori Martin and Mubarak Al Darmaki grew up in different worlds.

Tori, from northern Virginia, learned to swim before she could walk. She began competing in meets. Seven thousand miles away, in Abu Dhabi, Mubarak discovered basketball and honed his skills against players who were bigger, stronger and faster.

Tori and Mubarak both love sports, but they are also bound by something else that crosses all cultures and borders. They are among the 200 million people around the world who have an intellectual or developmental disability.

This week, they will represent their respective nations at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. They will carry with them a hunger for inclusion and dignity that burns within all people, a hunger that's now on the global agenda, an agenda that's led by people with intellectual disabilities that will benefit everyone.

The Middle East has lagged behind the rest of the world in respecting the needs and potential of people like Mubarak and Tori. But the tide is turning. Cultural and social barriers are being overcome.

A vivid example of progress will begin when more than 7,500 athletes from more than 190 countries — a record for Special Olympics -- will join Tori and Mubarak in the United Arab Emirates. The games in Abu Dhabi are the first World Games to be held in the region, and the biggest ever.

We hope they will shine a light on the abilities, accomplishments and untapped power of people who have been marginalized around the world. We hope these games will spark much-needed action to end the discrimination, abuse and neglect these athletes and millions of others endure every day.

After Abu Dhabi was announced as this year's host city, Special Olympics and the UAE set an ambitious goal: to welcome a delegation from every nation on earth.

Nineteen of the countries competing in Abu Dhabi are sending teams to the world games for the first time.

That growth means many good things. It means there are many more Special Olympics volunteers, staff and competitions than there were four years ago. More countries where people with intellectual disabilities are empowered through sports.

And, most important, more countries where adults and children with intellectual disabilities, along with their families, are involved in their communities, fighting back against discrimination and showing who they really are — leaders who inspire everyone to reach their full potential.

The 2019 World Games represent a milestone, but there is much more to do. Fifty years after Special Olympics began in Chicago, the movement continues to strive for a better world.

But even in wealthy nations, people with intellectual disabilities face daunting injustice. They are sicker than the rest of the population and their lives are shorter, because their medical care is worse. They are more isolated and lonely. They are more likely to be bullied and humiliated in school and far less likely to hold meaningful jobs. Though they are leaders of great courage and kindness, their gifts have gone unnoticed, their efforts unrewarded.

In Abu Dhabi, everyone who tunes in will experience a new reality -- a movement for inclusion led by people with intellectual disabilities, and an opportunity for the world to follow this lead. It will be a time of play, of games and cheers and joy.

When Tori and Mubarak compete, they will be global ambassadors, educating people in the Middle East and around the world about the extraordinary gifts and talents of people with intellectual disabilities. Through their talent and skill, these athletes will seek to inspire greater inclusion -- and help end the fear of difference that still exists everywhere.

This is why Special Olympics has come to the UAE. To nurture the seeds of progress. To bring many thousands of people together, regardless of nationality, color, faith, gender or intellectual differences, to proclaim that the world must be made a more inclusive place for everyone in it.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
88° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 97°
Robinson
Partly Cloudy
89° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 100°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
87° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 93°
Rockville
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 75°
Casey
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 82°
Brazil
Mostly Cloudy
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 97°
Marshall
Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 94°
Hot, humid, and hazy.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1407929

Reported Deaths: 25834
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook56116810553
DuPage933531321
Will777131042
Lake689761025
Kane59918816
Winnebago34589523
Madison32075533
St. Clair29670526
McHenry29452299
Peoria23620346
Champaign21446158
Sangamon19474245
McLean18765194
Tazewell17406308
Rock Island15345329
Kankakee14715224
Kendall13432100
LaSalle12904253
Macon11121214
DeKalb10235122
Vermilion10162154
Adams9386128
Williamson7963138
Whiteside7241174
Boone691180
Ogle627584
Grundy603379
Clinton585893
Coles5838101
Knox5712157
Jackson537465
Henry512970
Macoupin493389
Livingston493192
Woodford490783
Stephenson487286
Effingham480474
Franklin478178
Marion4686117
Jefferson4613123
Monroe447894
Randolph427687
Lee422554
Morgan410092
Fulton409659
Logan404665
Christian392575
Bureau384187
Montgomery383074
Iroquois326668
Perry326661
Fayette325256
McDonough302651
Jersey276652
Saline267557
Douglas262736
Union244141
Lawrence243627
Shelby234938
Crawford216826
Bond211524
Cass209527
Carroll204337
Pike197153
Ford192050
Hancock190832
Clark189034
Warren186250
Wayne185953
Jo Daviess183324
Richland179640
Edgar178942
White176426
Washington167625
Moultrie166328
Mason162647
De Witt160629
Piatt154914
Clay152943
Johnson152516
Greene151434
Mercer151334
Wabash145212
Massac140440
Cumberland130919
Menard126912
Jasper116818
Marshall109519
Hamilton87816
Schuyler8067
Brown8006
Pulaski7337
Stark65625
Edwards62012
Calhoun5352
Henderson53414
Scott5011
Putnam4933
Alexander48511
Gallatin4774
Hardin39412
Pope3384
Unassigned582432
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428