The Special Olympics National Games Romania is an event where everybody wins. Not only because all participants receive a medal, but because the event has the purpose to connect people with mental disabilities to the community and with each other. This is how Corina Radu, the PR coordinator of Special Olympics Romania describes their annual event.
Every year a region of the country is picked in order to host the National Games. Then they partner up with the local organisations and associations working with mentally disabled people. In the end, an event is created where institutionalized people and their families are invited.
The competition lasts three to four days. They start with free check-ups and advice on how to maintain their health. Afterwards the competitors are grouped based on their abilities.
They organize sports competitions because “through sport, kids are better integrated in society, they are valued, receive medals and appreciation; even if the appreciation comes from kids and families the same as them, self-esteem is very important.”
“There is no winner or loser. Indeed everyone wants a gold medal, but everyone goes home with a medal.” What is important is that “the athletes participate, meet their colleagues, to compare their abilities.”
The National Games Special Olympics 2016 took place in Arad between 27th-29th May. There were 300 athletes and 62 delegations.
The funding for competitions comes from European projects and Romanian companies, but they involve the local government whenever they have an event. They are responsive to their requests, and provide the facilities they need.
The athletes are able to further go to international competitions each year.
The organization is active in Romania since 2003.