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Unified Young athletes of Special Olympics Slovakia were most interested in basketball and football

The events of the Special Olympics Slovakia include the Unified Young Athletes Day. 30 children aged from six to twelve with intellectual disabilities and 12 children without intellectual disabilities enjoyed the sports day to the fullest in the Elán Sports Hall, also thanks to the support of the project Inclusion through sports for children with developmental disabilities funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation. The project is managed by Motivation Romania Foundation in partnership with Special Olympics Romania, SO Iceland, SO Slovakia, SO Lithuania, SO Bosnia and Herzegovina, SO Montenegro, with support from SO Europe Eurasia Foundation and Poznan University of Physical Education.

Various fun disciplines and sporting challenges awaited them, and the Olympic gold medallist Zuzana Rehák Štefečeková came to support them.

Special Olympics Slovakia (SOS) is dedicated to athletes with intellectual disabilities of all ages. The Young Athletes programme targets children as young as two years old and aims to teach them basic sports skills such as running, kicking, throwing, gripping, catching and balance.

“We have experience that with colourful and fun equipment these sports activities are even more attractive for children. I am pleased that on Unified Young Athletes’ Day we were able to create inclusion and that children with and without intellectual disabilities, from preschool to primary school, were able to play sports together. And we also had friends from Ukraine here,” said Eva Gažová, National Director of Special Olympics Slovakia. She believes that this way children also learn the ability to share, take turns, follow instructions and through sport they can use these skills in everyday life.

The project Inclusion through sports for children with developmental disabilities not only helps children and young people to play sport, but it also encourages them to have the opportunity to choose the sport that suits them best and that they enjoy. If they find that they enjoy a sport and are good at it, they can move on, joining a cycle of training and competitions, and the best ones have the opportunity to go on to international events.

“I came to the Special Olympics Slovakia Unified Young Athletes Day for the first time with my sons and it was an even greater experience for me. Again, we were all happy to see how the children got involved, how they experienced every successful throw or jump. They gave it their all in the events, although clearly the most interesting were basketball and football,” Zuzana Rehák Štefečeková, Olympic champion and member of the SOS presidency, summed up.

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