Abu Dhabi: About 50 pupils from the Emirates Autism Centre and Canadian International School of Abu Dhabi (CIS) participated in a fun-filled friendly swimming competition on Thursday to support the diversity and inclusion of people of determination.
The Embassy of Canada to the UAE, in partnership with the CIS and the centre, organised the competition called “SwimUnified”.
Taking place in the run-up to the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi next month, the event also aimed to encourage people of determination and promote their integration into mainstream education.
Masud Hussain, Canadian Ambassador to the UAE, said: “The commitment of Emirati leaders to integrate people of determination in all aspects of life is a value shared by the UAE and Canada. As such, the embassy is delighted to be involved with the organisation of this unified swimming event.
“This is a wonderful occasion to underscore the relevance and potential of inclusion in sport of persons with disabilities. I have no doubt that the participants and spectators will find friendship and understanding in the excitement and joy of competition,” he said.
“The Embassy of Canada is thrilled for the coming Special Olympics and we look forward to cheering on our own inspirational Canadian athletes,” he added.
Amal Sabry, who is the founder and managing director of the autism centre in Abu Dhabi, is herself the mother of an autistic child, and said: “Such events engage children and boost their morale while enabling them to interact with others and compete with them in fun-filled sports. Through such games we aim to promote the integration of autistic children into the mainstream education system.
“In the early 2000s, I worked with specialists in the US to develop an early-intervention programme for my son, who became the first autistic child to receive a high-school diploma from a UAE school,” she said.
She then used that first-hand experience to open the autistic centre in 2008 in order to help more autistic children achieve their potential.
Larry Thaxter, the superintendent of the CIS also emphasised that inclusion is an attitude and approach that embraces diversity and individual differences and promotes equal opportunities.