Persons Living with Disability (PLWD), who represented Kenya in the just concluded Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan, have called on the Ministry of Education, to consider incorporating para-sports competitions in primary schools to identify and nurture talent at an early age.
One of the Paralympians, Rodgers Kiprop, said sports have not been prioritized in the primary level for the special needs children, hence making it difficult to identify their talents when still young.
“If we want more representation in international games, the government must prioritize giving persons living with disabilities, a platform to exercise their talents, as they too are talented differently,” he said.
Kiprop, however, lauded the government for giving them a chance to represent the country in the international games, saying this made them feel very proud.
He however observed that unlike other sports where the champions are rewarded for their good work, those participating in paralympics, do not get any reward, which sometimes de-motivates them.
Another paralympian, Ms Nancy Chelangat, thanked the Department of Sports for giving her a chance to exercise her talent in the 1,500 meters race.
Ms Chelangat said she started participating in games outside the country in the year 2016, when she traveled to Morocco to represent the country in the para-sports, where she won a gold medal.
The same year, she traveled to Brazil for the paralympics and came back with a silver medal.
In the year 2019, she participated in a game held at Dubai, where she brought home a bronze medal.
The paralympians spoke at a Narok hotel, where the Nominated Member of Parliament (MP), representing Persons Living with Disability, David Sankok, hosted them.
Sankok praised the team for being consistent in representing the country, despite the various challenges they were facing.
“We appreciate that the Department of Sports took time to train them before they left for the Paralympics competitions, however, the weather in Tokyo was too unfavorable, probably the reason they did not bring medals,” he said.
The Nominated MP promised to table a Bill in Parliament that will make it compulsory for all primary schools with special units for PLWDs, to have a sports-enabling environment, so that the young learners can discover their talents early enough.
“A person is able to exercise his or her talent more if discovered and nurtured early. Right now, the old people who have been representing us in Paralympics, are phasing out, hence we need young energetic people, who will replace them,” said Sankok.
During this year’s Paralympics competition in Tokyo, Kenya was represented by nine people who managed one medal.
By Ann Salaton