🎵 He’s making a list; he’s checking it twice!
He’s going to find out, who’s naughty or nice,
Santa Claus is coming to town! 🎵
This giving season, meet these Special Olympics young athletes we feel deserve to make it to the top of Santa’s ‘Nice List’:
Fahsai was born with Down Syndrome and a hole in her heart. Due to her poor health, she stayed home most of the time. While the kids in the neighborhood played, she could only watch quietly by the sidelines. But things changed when she joined the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. Her health gradually improved, and she found the confidence to make friends and take part in sports. Fahsai was recently selected to be a drum major at her school. She has also been helping her parents with chores at a fishball stall on weekends to supplement their household income. Giving up has never been an option for this gutsy 11-year-old!
“My heart, my mind and spirit are strong. Nobody can stop me!”
Meet Praetara Inthichit, lovingly called Prarry. She has Down Syndrome and is partially blind. When she was younger, she feared doing anything on her own and depended on her family to carry out even the smallest of tasks. She was shy and refrained from interacting with people and making friends. After her father found out about the Special Olympics Young Athletes program, her family encouraged her to go outside and play games with the children in her neighborhood. Now, she’s found the courage to step out of her comfort zone, and is no longer afraid to make friends and take on tasks.
“Every step is a step forward. And that’s good enough for me!”
From not being able to sit still, to becoming a medal-winning athlete, Gongpop Kumyang has come a long way. He used to be overweight, had poor eating habits, and would fall sick often. But with the support of his coaches and volunteers from the Special Olympics Young Athletes program, he has since changed his sedentary lifestyle, lost weight and become healthier. These days, he helps his grandparents with daily chores like sweeping and washing the dishes. He also plays outside with the neighbors instead of watching TV. This young athlete has a dream – he’s determined to train and one day represent his country on the world stage.
“I have a disability, but it does not define me. My future is bright. The sky’s not the limit, it’s only just the beginning!”
Meet Joachim Isaac, lovingly known as ‘Akim’. He spoke his first word when he was 3 years old and was diagnosed soon after with autism. His parents were constantly worried about his development, because he was slower than other kids and had trouble following instructions. He was later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) too. When he was 4, he joined the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. The exercises, games and morning obstacle courses became his favorite activities of the day. Over time, his motor and social skills improved. Now, he’s a competent swimmer who also loves to paint, sketch and sing. He’s even had his own art exhibition!
“I know that life is filled with colors for me to explore and create, and to achieve my own milestones, in my own time.”
Anusorn Prabkraisi, 11, is a die-hard football fan. Friends and family lovingly call him Mai. When he was 6, his love and passion for sport led him to become a part of the Special Olympics family. His teachers have observed his great hand-eye coordination and regard him as a pro at throwing and catching the ball. During lessons, he’s usually quiet but when it comes to football training or physical education classes, he comes alive! Sports make him feel energetic and free.
“My coach believes that I will one day be a top athlete in the school. When I grow up, I can play football for Thailand!”
Will these young ones make your Nice List too? Well, why don’t YOU be their Santa and give them the best gift of all, the gift of inclusion, the gift of a better, brighter future? We urge you to make this Christmas merry for thousands of young athletes with intellectual disabilities across Asia Pacific with a #GiftofInclusion!