Special Olympics South Africa is proud to announce a new partnership with The Skateroom and Skateistan South Africa.

This partnership heralds the beginning of a pilot program in South Africa with the goal of teaching children with and without intellectual disabilities to gain more self-confidence in life. The program offers the children a safe community and helps them to grow in confidence, experience freedom, and learn new life skills through skateboarding. The program aims to empower a new generation of adaptive athletes to share a message of inclusion with the world.

The children taking part in the pilot are following an adapted version of Skateistan’s Skate and Create program, which combines skateboarding with creative education. With the help of Skateistan educators, the children follow an arts-based curriculum, designed to help them to explore the world around them and develop their own talents and interests.

The pilot launched at the Skateistan premises in Doornfontein three weeks ago and 20 Special Olympics athletes between the ages of 8 and 12 years have already successfully completed three training sessions.

As part of the program Special Olympics South Africa has trained 8 Skateistan educators on how to work with children with an intellectual disability in order to prepare these educators to deliver the program to Special Olympics athletes and partners in an inclusive environment.

The initial four sessions will only include Special Olympics South Africa athletes with an intellectual disability from Randburg Clinic School to provide the Skateistan educators the opportunity to focus exclusively on the athletes. In the fifth session children without intellectual disabilities will be introduced into this exciting inclusive program.

The Skateistan educators are being supported by Special Olympics staff and Special Olympics coaches from Randburg Clinic School.

Should the pilot program prove successful, a larger-scale project will be implemented in 2020 aiming to engage over 100 children with intellectual disabilities weekly.

The program is being funded by part of the sales of The Skateroom x Van Gogh Museum collection featuring skateboards adorned with iconic artworks by Vincent van Gogh. This collection of art decks is dedicated to helping those in need of finding their own voice.

“We are absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with The Skateroom and Skateistan South Africa. This program will provide new avenues for our athletes and partners to express themselves and to develop life skills. It is another means to create inclusive communities where the emphasis is not on disability but on ability. Our athletes are looking forward to learning a new sport, new skills and most importantly, making new friends.” Ancilla Smith, Special Olympics South Africa CEO

“At first I was scared but after the introductions and training, I am getting better. This is my new sport and I am going to buy myself a board to practice at home. Thank you to Special Olympics for the opportunity and the coach for choosing me.” Lehlohonolo Mzonyana, Special Olympics athlete from Randburg Clinic School

“Special Olympics athletes have energy and enthusiasm; they have fun no matter what. Skateboarding can be difficult if you are thinking about it too much, the athletes understand the importance of having fun through exercise and sports.” Kopano Tong, Skateistan Educator

“At first we were not sure about our athletes taking part in the sport but the principal said to give it a try, we were all amazed when we saw how quick they were able to take instruction and grasp the sport. We hope by the end of the programme, they will be great skateboarders.” Juma Dadams, Special Olympics Coach, Randburg Clinic School

“This sport is not easy, I tried boarding but failed, I was shocked by how the athletes were able to get on the boards by the third session. Our athletes will always prevail when given opportunity; the past session are a living proof” Wanga Manyala, Special Olympics Staff member

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