Special Olympics World Games, the world’s largest inclusive sports event, is set to take place in Berlin from June 17 to 25, 2023.
With 26 sports on the lineup, this event serves as a platform for thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities to showcase their physical abilities and engage in competitive sports with their peers.
The games’ primary objective is to increase social participation and recognition of individuals with intellectual disabilities in society, raising awareness and promoting inclusivity. The games offer a valuable opportunity for participants to boost their confidence, develop life skills, and build connections with fellow athletes.
This inclusive event promotes the benefits of sport and the need to create a level playing field for all. It provides a platform for athletes with intellectual disabilities to achieve their full potential in a safe and supportive environment, where they are treated with respect and dignity.
Special Olympics Pilipinas will send a delegation of 17 individuals, including athletes, coaches, and unified partners, with 6 athletes competing in aquatics, athletics, and bocce. The team will be led by an Olympian and 8-time gold medalist, Akiko Thomson-Guevara, who serves as the head of delegation and at the same time the national chairperson and president of the organization’s country Board of Trustees.
Thomson-Guevara expressed her enthusiasm and hope that the Philippine team will achieve great success at the World Games. However, she stresses that the real victory is in the athletes’ participation and the message of inclusivity they bring.
“I used to feel inferior watching family and friends play sports like badminton and basketball, thinking I could never be an athlete myself. But everything changed when I joined Special Olympics Pilipinas. Now, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be competing in Berlin next month! It’s a dream come true, and I hope my story inspires others to pursue their passions,” according to Liza Baento, one of the Filipino athletes.
The Special Olympics World Games 2023 marks a significant milestone for Germany as it hosts the games for the first time. This event serves as a powerful symbol of progress, promoting social inclusion and providing opportunities for athletes with intellectual disabilities worldwide.
The games offer a unique opportunity to learn about and engage with intellectual disability sports while promoting values of respect, inclusion, and diversity. Through the Special Olympics World Games, the world is reminded that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to showcase their abilities and make meaningful contributions to society.
Sideline Events in Conjunction with the World Games 2023
The Sargent Shriver International Global Messengers (SSIG) is a group of athlete leaders from Special Olympics worldwide, who will be sharing their stories and experiences at various events throughout Berlin. Among them is our very own Brina Kei Maxino, who will represent the Philippines and use her platform to promote inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities. She will also be hosting the Young Athletes demonstration event during the games, alongside her mentor Kristin Esber.
In addition to this, Carmelo Sebastian Sandiego, the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Athlete Input Council Adviser, will also attend the Global Athlete Leadership Congress on behalf of Special Olympics Asia Pacific. Accompanied by his mentor John Aquino, the congress’ theme of Leading Together provides a platform for discussions centered around inclusive leadership and empowering Special Olympics athlete leaders from around the globe to take the lead.
The Special Olympics is a global movement that aims to transform lives through the power of sport, empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities and promoting inclusion in society. Established in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the organization has grown to become the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, with a presence in over 190 countries.
In the Philippines, Special Olympics Pilipinas (SOP) started in 1979 to provide sports opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The organization has since grown to become a leading advocate for inclusion and equality in the country, promoting access to education, healthcare, and employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
SOP has participated in various international competitions, including the World Games, where Filipino athletes have won numerous medals and accolades. The organization’s mission is to create a more inclusive society, where individuals with intellectual disabilities can live with dignity and achieve their full potential.