Policy changes needed to support citizens with intellectual disabilities, families say
MORE support is needed for people with intellectual disabilities, say parents, following from this year’s Special Olympics Myanmar.
The promotion of therapeutic physical activity is something families of intellectually disabled people have pointed to as a shortfall in government policy.
They say holding an annual Special Olympics Myanmar event, while positive, is not sufficient, and does not have a marked impact on mental and physical development.
“Athletics needs to be weekly or daily. The government or Special Olympics Myanmar cannot do this alone. Parents [do their best] for their children,” said Daw Nawe Nie Aye, mother of an intellectually disabled child.
She says the support infrastructure is simply not there for all families, meaning many are unable to receive the benefit of structured physical activity.
“I can afford for my son only, but I want it to be equal for all. Poor parents can’t afford to support like this. Only rich parents can. Thus children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Myanmar are not given an equal chance. So, these people face discrimination in athletics,” said Daw Nawe Nie Aye.
The Special Olympics Myanmar national games began in 2004, as an initiative of the Ministry of Health and Sports.
The Special Olympics Myanmar 2016 was held in North Dagon’s Disability Stadium from November 10 to 11. Some 385 athletes from around the country took part, with representatives from Yangon, Mandalay, and Ayeyarwady regions, as well as Shan State, participating.
The event includes running (50 metres, 100m and 200m), as well as softball and Bocce.
Colonel U Myo Myint, chair of Special Olympics Myanmar, says he thinks awareness is a key issue – and a major factor in the lack of government funding directed to support for those with disabilities.
“People who know about Special Olympics Myanmar national games provide help and support. But this is just a few people,” he said.