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We need more sponsors for people with intellectual disabilities, says Special Olympics Nigeria’s envoy

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Tomiwa Adeyemo is the Special Olympics Nigeria’s ambassador to people living with intellectual disabilities. PHOTO: SAMUEL IFETOYE


It was at a large gathering of special people with their parents as Max International in partnership with Special Olympics Nigeria donated health equipment to persons living with intellectual disabilities as part of its corporate social responsibility to give back to the society not necessarily where they operate.

One of the athletes, who ensured that Nigeria won a gold medal at the 2017 Special Olympics Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, in the newly introduced Floor Ball event was, Tomiwa Adeyemo, the Special Olympics Nigeria’s ambassador.An indigene of Oyo State, Adeyemo, had difficulty in learning, which qualifies him to be among persons living with intellectual disabilities. And as the face of the international body, he has the task of advocating support for the disadvantaged in the society.

Speaking with The Guardian on the occasion of the firm’s donation of mobile dental and eye equipment with accessories, Adeyemo said the gesture was a welcome development but that they need more of such sponsors, especially as the Team Nigeria Special Olympics gets set for this year’s Special Olympics World Summer Games holding in Abu Dhabi.

“I have been with the Special Olympics Nigeria since 2010. Apart from sports, the body also has other initiatives like the healthcare, which deals with the opening of eyes and dental care by the Special Smile. But when it comes to sports, I have participated in both the national and regional games. My first time of participating at the international games was in 2017 at the World Winter Games in Austria in the Floor ball event. Though it was not easy as an athlete, I saw it as a challenge and I started working and training hard and before I knew it, I saw myself wearing a gold medal.

“Why I was made an ambassador of the Special Olympics Nigeria was for me to be an advocate of people with intellectual disabilities. I had to go through training to be able to achieve that. It is not an easy thing to be a leader. Before it was hard for me to talk with confidence but after I was trained, because I went through quality training, eventually I was made the athletes leader. Since I became a leader, I have seen the beauty of it because I have benefitted a lot from it. Now, it is easy to advocate for people with intellectual disabilities because it has now become part of my mission. It is now what I do for a living. We want to change the way people look at us as if we cannot make any impact in our communities.

“I want the society to know that we still have a lot to do in terms of contributing to the betterment of the society and we are still working towards it. Like you know, naturally all athletes are born lazy not until you see someone that will push, direct you that is when you will realise that this thing I can do it. And that is what the Special Olympics Nigeria has done by challenging us. Currently, I am learning a vocational work in fashion designing.

“My advice for parents who have children with intellectual disabilities, is that they should come to the Special Olympics Nigeria in order to give a meaningful life to their children. Assuming my parents kept me indoors, I wont be where I am today. Now, I can do what other regular people do. The only thing that I see between the regular and the people with intellectual disabilities is the ability to act fast. Apart from that there is nothing we too cannot do that they do.

“These children should be registered so that they can be made happy. Let them know that they are not just children with disabilities but that they can do what other children do. They should not be ashamed to bring them out. Who knows what is in their future, as they may be the ones to bring glory to their families just as I did to my family.

“We need more sponsors to support the Special Olympics Nigeria’s vision so that we too can know what is going on around us and also do what will benefit us in the future. We need governments too to be part of the sponsors to see to the aid of these people to also make impact in their communities,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi will host the Summer Games in 2019, where 60 Special Olympics Nigeria athletes will participate in eight sports, including athletics, badminton, basketball, football, table-tennis, volleyball, swimming and cycling. The World Summer Games is expected to bring together 7,000 athletes, 3,000 coaches, 1,500 officials, 20,000 volunteers, 3,000 invited guests, 6,000 family members and over 500,000 spectators from over 170 nations.


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