A sports festival dedicated to inclusion

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From: Catherine Bohmer

Pure joy at the mega sporting event: In June, the Special Olympics World Games will take place in Germany for the first time. Olching will also be the host city for Olympic athletes from the Caribbean. © Special Olympics

For the first time, the Special Olympics World Games will be held in Germany. The largest municipal inclusion project to date revolves around the sporting event for people with intellectual disabilities.

Olching – Olching is also there. 27 visitors from the Caribbean are expected – eagerly awaiting one thing in particular.

It can be said: Olching is part of a Germany-wide mega inclusion project this year, as the only place in the district. Disabled and non-disabled people should come together, celebrate the joy of life and the enthusiasm for sport together.

All this goes through the so-called “Host Town” program, to which the city applied last year. Thanks to the great commitment of Manuela Brehmer, president of the group of parents of disabled children (EbK), which also sends athletes to the Special Olympics, the contract was awarded. A total of 30 municipalities in Bavaria and 200 throughout Germany are involved. In principle, these are host cities.

Large inclusive sports festival

The underlying idea: athletes from all over the world come to visit Berlin four days before the games and mingle with the people. In Olching, there will be 27 athletes and their coaches from the Caribbean, more precisely from the small island state of Saint Kitts and Nevis, whose head of state is King Charles. The delegation will arrive at Munich Airport on Monday 12 June. “They should first acclimatize here,” Daniela Paunert of the city administration told city council members recently. However, a lot should be offered. Sightseeing, an official reception at the Kulturwerkstatt am Olchinger Mühlbach (KOM) and on Wednesday afternoon, June 14, an inclusive sports festival, with which the city has been particularly successful in its bid. It is mainly organized by Manuela Brehmer.

(By the way: everything from the region is now also available in our FFB Newsletter.)

“Our goal is for as many citizens as possible to come into contact with mentally disabled athletes,” Paunert explained. Clubs, schools and, if possible, the whole town should be involved. In the best case, everything goes so well that the event can then take place every two years. Olching also wants to take part in the torch relay organized by Munich.

First contact by videoconference

The first contact with the Caribbean athletes was via videoconference, which Paunert conducted with the head of social services, Peter Söllinger. “They were particularly interested in beer,” Paunert said during the town council meeting. In Olching there is the brewery of Gut Graßlfing. “Apparently they also have a brewery.”

It is not yet known how old the participants from the exotic country are. Except that they practice the sports disciplines of swimming, cycling and tennis. “It’s fine, because you can do all that with us,” says Paunert. The Special Olympics World Games in Berlin finally take place on Thursday 15 June. In addition to enthusiasm for sport, inclusion is also a key concern (see box). It will be a great sporting event. And maybe there will also be a little Olchinger beer in the luggage, as a souvenir of the host city, so to speak.

Special Olympics World Games: Founded by sister of John F. Kennedy

Special Olympics: Behind this is a global movement for inclusion. According to the website, it is about positively changing the lives of people with intellectual and multiple disabilities around the world. The highlight every two years is the Special Olympics World Games, which this year take place from June 17 to 25 in Berlin. It is the largest inclusive sporting event in the world. Thousands of athletes compete in 26 disciplines. “These are games by athletes, for athletes,” says Mark Solomeyer, National Athlete Spokesperson and Vice President of Special Olympics Germany.

And that’s how it all started: in 1968, thousands of athletes from the United States and Canada ran through the stadium in Chicago, Illinois, with flags and streamers. These are the first games of this genre, whose founder is Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of John F. and Robert Kennedy, who in turn had a sister with an intellectual disability. Kennedy Shriver was outraged that these children found no place in society.

She wanted to do something. This blossomed into what is now the biggest movement in sport for people with mental and multiple disabilities. Five million athletes from 174 countries participate, officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Not to be confused with the Paralympic Games, in which people with physical disabilities participate.

Further news from the district of Fürstenfeldbruck can be found at Merkur.de/Fürstenfeldbruck.

Ash Larson

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