On July 8th, 2014, UBC will welcome thousands of athletes and spectators to its Vancouver campus for the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games. It’s an annual that, above all else, aims to break down the barriers between society and the intellectually disabled.
Recently, four UBC School of Kinesiology students were announced as recipients of the 2014 UBC Equity Enhancement funding for their initiative to promote involvement in the upcoming Special Olympics Games. Rachel Brodeur, Rhiannon Evans, Kimberly Jung and Emily Ryan were recognized for their efforts to use the games as a tool to educate the University staff, student and community about inclusiveness and raise awareness about intellectual disabilities.
The B.U.I.L.D. Club, which stands for “Building Understanding of Intellectual Disabilities,” was formed by the students to build sustainable relationships between intellectually disabled organizations and the UBC community.
Originating first as a Kinesiology class project, the students were drawn to focusing their research on how the intellectually disabled are perceived due to the upcoming Games.
Their initial research revealed that within the UBC community, there was a profound lack of understanding and knowledge around the Special Olympic Games and their participants. As a result, they believe that this lack of information often leads to the creation of stereotypes and prejudices that offers a distorted view of the Special Olympics and their athletes.
As a result, Brodeur, Evans, Jung and Ryan began the B.U.I.L.D. club as a resource to bridge the gap between assumptions and knowledge, and to promote dialogue on intellectual disabilities before, during, and after the Special Olympic Games.
Apart from their involvement with the Special Olympic Games, the B.U.I.L.D. club aims to provide the UBC Community with ongoing relational experience, educational resources and opportunities to get involved.
At the recent UBC Alumni Weekend, the BUILD club partnered with the School of Kinesiology to facilitate a presentation focusing on the stigma and discrimination associated with the Special Olympic Games.
Learn more about the 2014 UBC Equity Enhancement Fund here | Photo courtesy of UBC Thunderbirds | Blog post by Kamil Somaratne