Children with special needs and their peers become “little athletes” at Izmir University of Economics (IUE). 10 children with autism and 10 typically developing children come together and develop basic motor skills, and overcome differences as part of the collaboration between IUE Vocational School of Health Services and Special Olympics Turkey.
The project aims to bring children aged 2-7 with special needs and children without needs together, and allow them to engage in educational activities to improve their basic motor skills such as speaking, balancing, jumping, bouncing, kicking a ball to a target, etc.
Ezgi Oral, Lecturer from IUE Vocational School of Health Services, said, “Special Olympics Turkey brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together and provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for them. Based on the protocol we signed with Special Olympics Turkey, we develop various projects where our students take part in. Twenty of our students in Child Development Program conduct educational and entertaining games for 10 children with autism and 10 typically developing children in order to help develop their basic motor skills.”
While allowing them to engage in educational activities to improve their basic motor skills, the project also aims to eliminate prejudices at an early age, and instill social skills in children, stated Oral. She said that among the long-term goals of the project was to turn these little athletes into special athletes who would be able to participate in many branches of sports in the future. Oral said, “We want children to improve their social skills. We have an 8-week training. A different activity takes place in each week. Children are both having fun and learning at the same time. When the program is completed on April 17, we will celebrate it with a children’s fest. Students in Child Development Program will exhibit the games and toys they developed, an award ceremony will be held, and Izmir Autism Orchestra and Choir (IZOT) will perform at the festival.”
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