Coinciding with the Special Olympics UAE Unified Sports League Finals held at 321 Sports on Al Hudayriyat Island, Ahmed Al Shamsi, CEO of Emirates Foundation; and Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to kick-off a year-round partnership to promote and deliver a nationwide series of events as part of Special Olympics Unified Champions Schools (UCS) Programme.
The UCS Programme is an initiative for school Pre-K through university that promotes meaningful social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities to create accepting school environments relying on three interconnected elements: Special Olympics Unified Sports, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement.
It also adopts a strategy of unifying all students – with and without disabilities – using sports as a catalyst for social inclusion and attitude and behavioural change.
As the lead organisation in the UAE for volunteering and creating a positive social impact, Emirates Foundation will support UCS Programme through managing a robust and year-round volunteer programme essential to support the delivery of UCS events throughout the country, including Unified Sports and Unified Robotics.
“Emirates Foundation has a proud history in supporting Special Olympics dating back to our key role in Special Olympics World Games 2019. The Foundation prioritises the initiatives that can help improve the quality of life of People of Determination. Through this new partnership with Special Olympics UAE, we are able to bring joy and inclusion to school children across the UAE by engaging our nationwide volunteers and diverse talents in the life changing UCS programme,” Al Shamsi said.
Talal Al Hashemi stated, “We believe that our cooperation and partnership with Emirates Foundation will contribute to achieving the Special Olympics’ goals, specifically those set for the UFS programme which aims to create community engagement activities and build an all-embracing environment.”
The partnership reiterates the Special Olympics’ keenness to strengthen its ambitious plans for social inclusion; harness all means to support People of Determination; improve the quality of services provided to them; and promote positive behaviours through an integrated set of initiatives that employ sport as an active element.
“As our strategy targets an active and inclusive environment for the People of Determination, we take pride in this distinguished partnership with Emirates Foundation which will play a pivotal role in supporting our programmes,” Al Hashemi added.
As part of the ongoing collaboration between the two parties, 92 volunteers contributed their time and talents to support the Unified Sports League Finals between 15th-16th May where 240 student athletes with and without intellectual disabilities from Emirates Schools Establishment met for a two-day competition in 5-a-side football and badminton at the 321 Sports Dome in Abu Dhabi.