Note: The following is a guest post from Kevin in our East Asia office.
The Special Olympics China National and East Asia Basketball Competitions opened 7 November 2011 in Hubei, China. Twenty delegations with more than 300 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from sixteen Chinese provinces, Hong Kong, Macau, Chinese Taipei and Korea participated in the competitions. More than sixty student volunteers from Hubei University and Hubei Sport School also volunteered. Free health screenings were also offered to athletes through the Special Smiles, Opening Eyes and Health Promotion programs.
A Unified Basketball Event, sponsored by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, was offered to athletes with intellectual disabilities and their partners on the final day of competitions, which provided an opportunity for unified pairs to compete together. The unified teams provided the public an opportunity to experience first-hand the capabilities and courage of Special Olympics athletes. While having fun together, Unified Sports athletes and partners improve their physical fitness, sharpen their skills, challenge themselves and overcome prejudices about intellectual disabilities.
The Basketball Competition, the largest sport event for Special Olympics East Asia in 2011, promoted communications and cooperation among the five East Asia Special Olympics programs and will ultimately mobilize more people with intellectual disabilities to participate in Special Olympics.