“At the core of this collaboration lies the profound belief in the power of inclusion and diversity. Inclusion goes beyond just giving everyone a seat at the table; it means actively embracing differences and celebrating them. Today, we are embracing the diversity within the Special Olympics community, and uniting it with the global table tennis family. Together, we can break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create a more inclusive society for all. Through this partnership, we will strive to improve lives through the transformative power of table tennis. By providing increased access to the sport, we aim to enhance the physical, mental, and social well-being of individuals within the Special Olympics community.” – Petra Sörling, President, ITTF and ITTF Foundation
The ITTF Foundation and Special Olympics have set out to use table tennis as a way to foster development through sport and ultimately continue to grow the inclusivity of the world-wide table tennis community. The increase in opportunities for individuals with intellectual disability to partake in sport, such as table tennis, will increase the physical and mental well-being of athletes while providing them with opportunities to meet new people and expand their horizons outside of the realm of sport.
Nyasha Derera, Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger, spoke on the need of inclusion in sport, “Inclusion in sport is important because it gives me the confidence to network and interact while being a part of something that allows me to express my confidence and not be afraid to be looked down on. It is because of sport I have a sense of belonging.”
The signing of the MOU is an official proclamation by the ITTF Foundation’s to support of Special Olympics as it continues to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. These trainings and competitions continue to expand the opportunities for athletes to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and their community.
Special Olympics CEO, Mary Davis, shared her encouragement of the newly penned agreement, “We’re thrilled to be formalizing a partnership with the International Table Tennis Federation Foundation. Table Tennis is a lifetime sport enjoyed by thousands of Special Olympics athletes of all ages and abilities around the world, and we are excited to celebrate this inclusive sport, and continue to elevate the quality of training and competition for Special Olympics table tennis athletes around the world.”
Follow the full coverage of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 here.