• Volunteers were invited to participate in activities with almost 300 people of determination at a Unified Fun Day hosted in Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi
  • The event was the very first Special Olympics to be open to the general public in Abu Dhabi
  • Guests took part in a number of sports activities including football, basketball, bocce, and Zumba

UAE, 6th December 2017: In celebration of International Volunteer Day 2017, Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 collaborated with Emirates Foundation to host a Unified Fun Day at Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Volunteers who have registered for the Games were invited to meet the young athletes with intellectual disabilities and take part in a number of sports games including football, basketball, bocce, and a Zumba class run by a certified instructor with Downs Syndrome. This was also the first Special Olympics event to be open to the general public. Almost 300 young people of determination from seven sports clubs and disability clubs attended the event including Abu Dhabi Club for the Disabled, Emirates Downs Syndrome Association, Futures Rehabilitation Centre, Goals UAE, Khorfakkan Club for the Disabled, SEDRA and Zayed Higher Organisation.

The purpose of the event was to generate community engagement between volunteers and people of determination to allow them to interact in a relaxed and informal environment. A signing booth was set up to allow the public to register to volunteer at the Special Olympics IX MENA Games in 2018 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. International Volunteer Day (IVD) is celebrated worldwide on 5th December as recognition of positive solidarity of volunteers.

A total of 3,000 volunteers are needed to cover MENA Games and 20,000 for the World Games. People from across the UAE will have the unprecedented opportunity to be a part of something truly extraordinary at Special Olympics as the Games come to the Middle East and North Africa for the first time ever. There are hundreds of possible jobs for Special Olympics volunteers, including, issuing credentials, supporting online outreach, coordinating events, assisting sport officials and many more. Some require specialised and advanced skills; many only need a positive attitude and the willingness to pitch in and help.

Spokespeople from both Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018, and Emirates Foundation were both present.

His Excellency Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, said: “Our aim of the event was to give the public the opportunity to begin to grow a great bond with people of determination, in hopes to inspire more and more volunteers to sign up for the Games. Special Olympics volunteers will play a major role in the success of one of the world’s biggest and most inspiring events and will help to transform the lives of thousands of individuals and families by launching a new era of inclusion, hope and understanding and we are extremely grateful for their support.”

To coincide with the launch of the programme, the Ministry of Community Development and Emirates Foundation recently announced their support for the successful execution of Special Olympics Games in Abu Dhabi.

The MENA Games will take place from 17 - 22 March 2018 and over 1,200 athletes of all abilities will descend upon Abu Dhabi to take part in the Games, which will be the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes will take part in 16 different sports in seven venues across Abu Dhabi.

The MENA Games and World Games are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

Volunteers must be at least 14-years old and commit to a minimum of five shifts during the Games. Shifts are an average of six hours. All volunteers will be required to attend 16-hours of training ahead of the Games and there will be opportunities for individuals, families and people with and without intellectual disabilities to get involved. To register to volunteer, visit: http://www.abudhabi2019.org/volunteers

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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 14 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

About Emirates Foundation

Emirates Foundation was launched in April 2005 as an initiative of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. It is chaired by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In 2012, the Emirates Foundation was re-launched under the name “Emirates Foundation for Youth Development” as an integrated national initiative that seeks to invest in UAE youth. The new strategy uses the model venture philanthropy with a view to impacting the lives of young people in the UAE positively and permanently. To achieve this, the Foundation will work in three key focus areas: social inclusion; community engagement; and leadership and empowerment. It will seek to identify, educate and inform the public about challenges facing UAE youth while developing sustainable, enterprise-based solutions to social issues and motivating young Emiratis to volunteer, participate and give back to society.

Emirates Foundation works to enhance partnerships between private and public sectors, in order to develop sustainable ways of helping young people in the UAE make an active contribution to the country’s development. EF is funded through contributions from the Abu Dhabi government and private sector companies.

For more information on Emirates Foundation, please contact: Samar Abdulhadi –samar@inspirat.us +971504546313