By Sports Reporter/Doha
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) is hosting aquatics training sessions comprised of swimming, scuba diving and snorkelling lessons by non-profit Freestyle Aquatics for people with special needs of all ages.
Aspire Zone initiative started in November 2016 when AZF opened its indoor pool in Aspire Dome, the largest multipurpose facility of its kind in the world, to two volunteer coaches from Freestyle Aquatics, co-founders Kathleen Bates and Jojo Musa. Together with AZF, they hope to encourage people with special needs to have an active lifestyle and better integrate as equal members of society.
Speaking about Aspire’s hosting of the training sessions, Mr. Nasser Abdullah Al-Hajri, Director of PR and Communication at AZF, said: “Sports is not exclusive to a particular category of people, it is suitable for all ages and physical abilities. At Aspire Zone, we are always keen to support people with special needs through our world-class facilities, developed to the highest international standards.” He added: “We integrate people with special needs into sporting activities at Aspire Zone throughout the year, whether by collaborating with governmental organisations such as the Qatar Paralympic Committee or non-profit organisations such as Freestyle Aquatics.”
Jojo Musa, swimming coach and co-founder of Freestyle Aquatics, said: “When we set up the Freestyle Aquatics program, we wanted to provide people with special needs with aquatics lessons to help them challenge themselves and achieve great results. Swimming can help improve their confidence, overcome physical disabilities and prove to themselves and others that they can accomplish anything once they set their mind to it. We want them to know that we are here for them, and we welcome anyone to volunteer to support.”
Meanwhile, Mohammed Sami, a system analyst at a local IT company and father of six-year old Ali, expressed his gratitude to the organisers for giving his son new opportunities to try new things and build his self-esteem. He said: “I’m very grateful for Freestyle Aquatics program and this opportunity. I come from a family of swimmers and it was very important to me that my son learn how to swim so we can take part in family activities together. I spent a long time looking for classes for his condition but couldn’t find any, until this programme. Ali has been with Freestyle Aquatics for a year now and he’s now very comfortable in the water. Swimming has helped my son gain better control of his right side and made a huge impact on his confidence. He’s now one of only a few kids in his class who knows how to swim.”
This initiative is part of AZF’s CSR initiatives and builds on AZF’s existing efforts to provide people with special needs with as many opportunities to practice their favourite sports as possible throughout the year. These include events such as the Table Tennis for Special Needs Championship, organised each year at the Ramadan Sports Festival in collaboration with the Qatar Paralympic Committee, and the Fun Run, which is held as part of the National Sport Day activities and sees wide participation from members of the special needs community.
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