ABU DHABI, 9 June (BelTA - Emirates News Agensy). - Special Olympics UAE has hosted the Unified Champion Schools (UCS) Awarding Ceremony recognising the schools, students, and teachers dedicated to championing inclusion in school communities.
The virtual event, which was live-streamed from Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, was the first award showcase for all the programmes under the umbrella of UCS, that drive inclusion for People of Determination with intellectual and developmental disabilities in mainstream schools.
The 39 award categories encompass sports, leadership, impact, and sustainable inclusion. The UCS Awarding Ceremony also included the announcement of the winners of the Unified Robotics competition, in its largest participation to date since its launch in 2019.
This year is the first awards showcase of outstanding athletes, partners, teachers, team leaders, and schools that have exemplified inclusion in implementing Unified Sports, and creating opportunities for leadership in innovation, impact, exposure, and sustainability.
Among the winners is Emirati youth leader Ghalyah Al Hendi, a participant in the Unified Robotics competition, who, with teammate Alyazia Al Hadhrami, co-founded Peoplability, an organisation funded by the Special Olympics UAE grant for inclusive youth leadership, which connects People of Determination with employment and university opportunities.
The Unified Robotics 2022 competition season, held in partnership with Atlab and supported by KPMG, concluded at the UCS Awarding Ceremony with the announcement of gold, silver, and bronze winners along with special award categories for schools that demonstrated inclusion, team spirit and innovation.
This year recorded the highest participation to date, with 700 neurodiverse students and mainstream peers from 153 UAE schools competing together to complete robotics missions.
Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE, said, "We are delighted to recognise all the outstanding efforts by individuals and schools in the Unified Champion Schools programme. The response to the programme has been extremely positive, and we are proud to recognise the students, teachers, and schools for their outstanding dedication to inclusion.
"This success sets an example of the UAE's proactive commitment to inclusion, especially in education, where youths can start their journey in life with the belief that inclusion is a norm, not an exception. We are very grateful to our country's leadership for the unwavering support and all the schools, educational groups, students, and teachers who create environments of acceptance and inclusion for students of all abilities."