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Unified sports program tackling social problems in Russia

With the Paralympics underway in London, disability sports are topping the headlines. This week, a new Sport for Good Foundation project was lunched in Moscow, which aims at helping mentally disabled children to socialize.

The legendary charity foundation Laureus has been busy supporting this new project aimed for young sports lovers who are disabled. Dubbed the Unified Sports Program, the initiative will partner with the Special Olympics, the international games that raise awareness about talented young people with mental handicaps.

This group of people is often marginalized, segregated and vulnerable within Russia, so the project hopes to create a new world of inclusion and community for them through sports.

“My goal as a representative of Laureus is to spark children’s interest in sports. We travel across the globe and hold master classes for kids to show everyone that sport has the power to change the world and unite people in a way that little else can,” four-time Olympic champion Aleksey Nemov said.

The legendary gymnast was eager to get involved with young sports-lovers, including in basketball, football and floorball.

There was a special treat for everyone at the kickoff event when Nemov was joined by three recently crowned champions of Russia’s Olympic synchronized swimming team – Daria Korobova, Anzhelika Timanina and Elvira Khasyanova – giving the up-and-comers the chance to see their sports idols up close.

“This is our first chance to be here. This is amazing for us, because we can give a little part of our success to these children,” Timanina said.

Russia’s Unified Sports Program will continue to expand, helping to educate the general public on the inclusion of the mentally handicapped, and giving young athletes every hope to one day compete for their own Olympic glory.