UAE, 6th February 2018: The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 has partnered with almost 40 public and private schools in Abu Dhabi as part of its Adopt a Nation school programme which was launched earlier this month.

Adopt a Nation is an interactive programme that will see UAE schoolchildren connect with Special Olympics athletes from across the world. Each participating school will be partnered with a national team and students will be able to personally interact with team players.

The cultural exchange between local students and international athletes will help them become familiar with UAE culture as well as establish a school-wide fan club for each country participating in the Games. Adopt a Nation aims to cultivate Special Olympics values such as empathy and inclusion amongst students in the UAE as they learn about intellectual disabilities from a global perspective.

A series of events that facilitate cultural exchange will run throughout the year including Play Unified (sports involving both people of determination and people without intellectual disabilities), language exchange, teaching each other native songs, recipe sharing, short story competitions and much more.

His Excellency Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, comments: “Adopt a Nation is a truly remarkable programme, enriching the lives of the next generation of the UAE. Implementing the Special Olympics values into students’ education, especially at an early age, can only benefit us for future generations to come. As we prepare to host Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, we hope to nurture the spirit of empathy, inclusion, tolerance and accessibility via invaluable programmes such as this.”

Abu Dhabi will be the first city ever to host both the MENA and World Games, right after one another. The two Games are separate events, but very much related. Over 1,200 athletes of all abilities will descend upon Abu Dhabi from 14 - 22 March, this year, to take part in the IX MENA Games. Athletes will participate in 16 sports, which will be hosted in eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society.

Special Olympics is unique to every other Olympic Games and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, athletes must have an intellectual disability; a cognitive delay, or a development disability, that is, functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills (they may also have a physical disability).

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About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 8-22, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world, with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing more than 170 countries. The World Games will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage and skill that are hallmarks of Special Olympics movement. The largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa, the World Games features 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in venues throughout Abu Dhabi. The spectacular Opening Ceremony on March 17 is expected to attract 45,000 spectators while being viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2019 World Games will be the most unified Special Olympics competition in history, with inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event. The Games are the most visible component of a planned series of initiatives by Abu Dhabi and the UAE to expand opportunity for people with disabilities, and to promote inclusion and understanding throughout the emirate, nation, and region. Plans for operation of the World Games include leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.