• Healthcare professionals who are volunteering for Special Olympics IX MENA Games in March 17-21 attends their second briefing yesterday
  • Over 1,200 athletes with intellectual difficulties will receive health screenings in Abu Dhabi for the MENA Games

Abu Dhabi, 18 January 2018: Clinical Directors from across the UAE, gathered at the Special Olympics’ local organizing committee headquarters, this week, to finalise key details about the programme, in which the health screening will be held during Special Olympics IX MENA Games from 14 – 21 March 2018.

Hundreds of healthcare professionals will be volunteering their time at the MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games 2019, as part of the globally-praised Special Olympics Healthy Athletes programme.

The Healthy Athletes programme will provide health screenings for all competing athletes in the MENA and World Games. Over 1,200 athletes will receive health screenings during the upcoming MENA Games.

H.E. Prof Dr. Maha Barakat, comments: “It is such an honour for Abu Dhabi to be hosting Special Olympics IX MENA Games in March and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. The Games and the healthcare professionals who have voluntarily dedicated their time, knowledge and resources to Special Olympics athletes, are a true reflection of the UAE’s 2030 vision, which promotes an inclusive environment by extending care towards all segments of the community.

This is a sentiment that emanates from the principles introduced by our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan back in the day, and one which is still upheld by our wise leadership today. We hope that even more volunteers will be encouraged to sign up over the coming weeks.” She Added.

Healthcare organisations including SEHA, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the Department of Health, Healthpoint Hospital, Body Tree Studio, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Maudsley Health Abu Dhabi and Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.

The meeting comes after clinicians from across the world visited Abu Dhabi in October to train 16 regional and over 30 local physicians and other health professions, on how to screen people with intellectual disabilities as part of a three-day “Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Train the Trainers”.

Health screenings will include podiatry, vision, dentistry, fitness, nutrition and health education program, audiology and emotional wellbeing.

The Healthy Athletes programme aims to screen and care for people with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics has trained over 220,000 professionals as part of the programme, improving access to quality health services year-round and around the world.

These healthcare professionals provide life-changing care to millions of people with intellectual disabilities. When people with ID have access to health services, they also have more opportunities for education, employment, sports, and other pathways to reach full participation in society.

Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are part of the UAE’s National Vision 2030 that empowers people of determination with intellectual disabilities through sports to be integrated 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.)

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 17 - 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.

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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.