The city school Bijoygarh Vidyapith held the latest edition of Unified Sports Training on 25th July under Special Olympics Bharat, West Bengal. This was the same school that was the first government school in Kolkata to be recognised as an Unified Champion School by Special Olympics Bharat early this year. Unified Sports is a type of sports wherein athletes with and without disabilities participate in sports training together. The concept of Unified Sports was first initiated by Special Olympics Bharat in India in 2018 and Special Olympics Bharat, West Bengal has been successfully running Unified sports under their Unified School Programme since then. This training was done in collaboration with Civilian Welfare Foundation, a NGO based in West Bengal working in the areas of disability, education, gender and healthcare and JR Foundation, which works with marginalised communities from 3 countries.
This training first started with a session of Unified Yoga, where the athletes with and without disabilities performed yoga together. Around 80 athletes with and without disabilities participated in the training. These children were mainly in the age group 10-15 years from 6 mainstream schools and 3 special schools. As aptly put by Mrs. Anju Mishra, the yoga instructor, ‘‘Because the participants were all school going children, yoga is especially beneficial for them as a relaxation technique given the heavy bags they have to carry. Moreover, yoga will help in improvement of their attention and all-over mental health.’’
This was followed by a session of Unified Bocce. Bocce is an indoor ball-game that is played by two teams of athletes. Whichever team manages to place the ball nearest to the smaller ball, wins. Dr. Sayantani Karmakar, Assistant Secretary of Civilian Welfare Foundation was quoted saying, ‘‘Bocce is an excellent and skillful game which can be played by athletes across a wide range of disabilities. Such games need to be popularised which in turn will help in fostering an inclusive environment. Moreover, more schools should come forward and participate in such inclusive events.’’
Rahul Dasgupta, CEO of Globsyn Business School and Founder of JR Foundation, was also present in the session. He has been encouraging unified initiatives like Unified Theatre since the last two years. He proposed the athletes with disabilities to participate in their annual fest and also proposed infrastructural support for annual sports of Special Olympics West Bengal. Moreover, he also put forward the idea of giving classroom exposure to these special athletes with disabilities. Seeing a corporate institution like this actively propagate about unified initiatives is a truly welcome change that will benefit the society at large.