Pol­icy changes needed to sup­port cit­i­zens with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, fam­i­lies say

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTIKE NANDA WIN htike­nan­dawin@mm­times.com

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.

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