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02 October 2023

NYU Abu Dhabi Athletics, Special Olympics UAE launch virtual fitness support programme

Photo: WAM


NYU Abu Dhabi, NYUAD, Athletics has launched Virtual Unified Partners, a virtual fitness support programme, in cooperation with Special Olympics UAE.

As part of the programme, NYUAD student athletes will hold two sessions per week to train virtually with Special Olympics athletes.

"The initiative is designed to assist Special Olympics athletes without pre-existing support platforms to stay engaged in sports activities and continue being active while staying home," NYUAD said in a statement.

The pilot programme kicked off with 16 NYUAD students signing up to train with 17 Special Olympics athletes aged between nine and 32, with an aim of providing support and building relationships between NYUAD student athletes and Special Olympics athletes. The programme will also provide NYUAD athletes with an opportunity to engage with people of determination and serve the community during this challenging time.

Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Athletics at NYUAD Peter Dicce, commented, "This pioneering programme continues NYUAD’s partnership with the Special Olympics and builds on the legacy of the Special Olympics World Games hosted by Abu Dhabi in 2019."

On behalf of the Special Olympics UAE, Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE, said, "We are pleased to cooperate with NYU Abu Dhabi on this programme and many other programmes to unified teams that are seeking to achieve a unified goal; effective and complete social inclusion."

NYUAD Class of 2023 student who is majoring in Filmmaking and Social Research and Public Policy, Salma Abdelaziz, described her experience with Special Olympics athlete Nour El Akhdar, saying, "I am very grateful for the opportunity provided through NYUAD Athletics to volunteer with the Special Olympics. I wouldn't exchange the bond that I built with Nour for anything else in the world. In our Zumba work-out sessions, Nour's dance movements are always on point; she would definitely be a better instructor than me!"

The students will design each of the workout sessions and will be assisted by NYUAD Athletics coaches to ensure they provide tailored fitness activities for each participant. The sessions will be conducted via video-conferencing, allowing each individual to remain home while completing the sessions.