Special Olympics 2017 – Table Tennis at Kanagawa

10.1.17

Today, I volunteered at a special Olympics which unlike the Paralympics is for athletes with mental disabilities. My friend and I were the only people from YIS or frankly under the age of 18 there, which was quite nerve-wracking. We helped in organizing the crowd and assisting the athletes in case they needed to go to the bathroom. Each of us was given pools to supervise and we made sure the players in our groups played their turns. 

This experience helped me in becoming more educated on how people on the spectrum are in real life rather than simply reading or watching documentaries about the disorder. It also made me want to hustle harder in the sports that I do as these athletes who had a “disadvantage” were working very hard. I was able to meet new people who I would not normally talk to which was interesting as well.

A misconception that people often have is that people with mental disabilities are antisocial and are not able to have friendships. However, this was proven incorrect when I volunteered at the event. The athletes from the same prefectures were supportive of each other and cheered each other on during the games. Even those from different prefectures talked amongst each other and were saying that they do not have the opportunity to meet with their friends other than these games, seeming delighted.