Thirty-year-old Emirati, Asma Baker, a person of determination, has always been inspired to write poems. For as along as she can remember, Baker has been writing poetry and song lyrics on the request of her late father who urged her to let her creativity flow. The fact that she is really good in what she does has been recognised by the organisers of the Special Olympics World Games and her pieces will be included in the opening ceremony of the event in a big way.
For the uninitiated the Special Olympics World Games is being held from March 14-21 at the Zayed Sports City stadium. Close to 7,500 special athletes from 192 countries will compete in 24 sporting event at the week-long event being held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. On the opening night, the athletes will take centre stage in the traditional Athlete Parade. The ceremony will see the lighting of the cauldron that will officially mark the opening of the World Games - when ‘the Flame of Hope’ completes its final journey at the iconic Zayed Sports City stadium.
Speaking to Gulf News in a telephone interview from Abu Dhabi, Baker said she is elated with her role in the opening ceremony act. "I owe my creativity to my father as he encouraged me to write," she said.
“One of the poems I will be reciting for the opening ceremony is dedicated to my father. Another one is about hope and future. A poem that I have written is also about a lesson for everyone to know that we all come into this world with our own destiny and it is important for us to value it.”
Indeed the Special Olympics World Games this year will be special in more ways than one as People of determination, for the first time in the history of the event will perform in the opening ceremony act. Just like Baker, a bunch of other talented individuals will have a key role to play in the ceremony expected to go on for over two hours.
There are 50 ‘makers’ who are part of the opening event. “They are called makers because the people of determination are making the show, literally. While some of the ‘makers’ are athletes, others are just involved in the creation behind the opening ceremony,” said Dr. Jenie Potts, Clinical Psychologist who has especially flown in from the UK to help the team with the opening act.
These creative individuals will take centre stage on the very first night of the event to express their ideas and feelings in the form of a poetry recital, a song and more. The act will not just feature performances by people of determination; several celebrities are flying in for the event from across the world. The week-long international sporting event concludes on March 21.
Meet Canadian expat, Nazeer Ali, 25, an enterprising young individual who has a major role for the opening night and will be reciting a poem alongside Baker. “We have been practicing for a couple of months on our voice modulation and recitals. I cannot tell you more about it, but I am overwhelmed to say the least that I have been picked for the celebrations. We have never done anything like this before and it is a huge honour for me to be part of such a big event.”
British expat James Casaki, 31, is also singing in a choir on March 14. “I cannot give you details of the song we are singing but I can say that I am very happy with the whole concept that has taken shape for the opening act. I love music, it’s my life. I have been singing since I was young. My favourite genre of music is pop and theatre.”
Rupert Alexander Pearce, workshop director at People Creative, the agency involved in the making of the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics said, “We have been working with the people of determination to ensure their ideas and vision create the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics.”
“The idea of getting these talented individuals to be part of the opening act is a way to seamlessly include them into mainstream society. We are taking their ideas on music, using their lyrics for a song that will be part of the opening act among other creative ideas. Since August last year my team and I have worked with them to capture their ideas and turning them into a full-fledged performance for the world to see.”
The act will not just feature performances by people of determination; several celebrities too are flying in for the international sporting event. Some are coming to perform on stage, others are coming to show their support and love for an inclusive society.
“Asma, Nazeer and James form a really important part of the show. James’ ideas and lyrics he has written has inspired for a song in the choir, which is incredible,” said Potts.
“Rupert and I have been working since October last year with the people of determination to gather their ideas and make it into a performance for the opening night. Personally, I work with special needs people in the UK and I have come here especially to help these individuals at the ceremony. Part of my role is to help the team share their ideas in a stage performance for the world to see.
Pearce said: “If you look at the UN convention on rights for a person with disability, it says, nothing about us is without us. And that is why this event will be so special as we will have the people of determination drive the opening ceremony.”
“It is an incredible message to tell the world about these individuals. It is not for us to tell the story, but for them to tell the story. This is why it is truly uniquely creative."
Meanwhile, Wemmy de Maaker, founder and managing director, Mawaheb said she is immensely proud of her students, or artists as she calls them.
“Six of our students including Asma, James and Nazeer are part of the ‘making team’ for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics. They have been part of the project since October last year.”
Gulshan Kavarana, art teacher at Mawaheb said her students are true artists. “They are extremely bright and creative and that is why they were picked by the organisers to be part of the event. It is a matter of great pride to see our students excel,” she said.
Pearce added: “Every time I sit down with them and see their work or their poetry or their writing, it inspires me. All I can say is, get ready to see an amazing performance by these talented artists.”