Bak Maha festival for intellectually disabled

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

There were over 650,000 intellectually disabled persons in Sri Lanka, Chairman of the Special Olympics Serendib (SOS- Sri Lanka), Dr. Nimal Kariyawasam said yesterday.

 Dr. Kariyawasam said that the number included adults and children. "The unfortunate truth is that even the minds of 40 year old adults are like those of ten year old children as they suffer from intellectual development disorder," he said pointing out that it was one of the reasons which made it difficult to differentiate between them as a result.

 The SOS Chairman said however that those who were intellectually disabled excelled in sports activities, which was why they had organised a Bak Maha festival on Saturday (11) at the Railway ground, (Mount Mary), Dematagoda from 8 am. There would be several competitions, including aliyata es thebeema (placing the elephant’s eye,’ Banis kema (eating buns) and a fancy dress parade. There would be over 600 children taking part, while all children would be given gifts during the event. 

The Chairman said that the SOS had branches in Hambantota, Matara, Galle, Ambalangoda, Kalutara, Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnariwa, and Jaffna. It was an organisation dedicated to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of the society through sports. Sport therapy gives a significant improvement to mental strength which is not gained through long time education in classrooms.

 The Organisation said it had participated at the Special Olympics World Games in Athens Greece in 2011 with 13 Special Athletes and had been able to win 11 Gold medals, five silver medals and one bronze medal. In 2013 the SOS participated at the Special Olympics World Games in Sydney, Australia with 20 special Athletes where they won five gold medals, four silver and eight bronze.

 The Chairman added that they would take part in the world games to be held in Los Angeles, USA at the end of July 2015.

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