Qader Award allows people with specific needs and disabilities to participate in specialized sports programs free of cost
Jassim Al-Sulaiti has always loved to watch football matches, but he was once unable to play the sport with his peers because he is diagnosed with Autism.
But the 22-year-old did not consider his condition to be obstacle to him, and nor did his mother Aysha Al-Ali, who believes in the need for equal opportunities for those with Autism, and for everyone. And when she heard about Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Ability Friendly Program, she registered her son so that he could benefit from its classes in football and swimming, which are specially designed to cater for people with specific needs and disabilities.
The program – which, through QF’s Qader Award, is open to members of the community regardless of their financial circumstances – has changed Jassim's life and had a clea and positive impact on his health, as Aysha explained. "My son's physical structure has improved a lot after joining Qatar Foundation’s Ability Friendly Program, and I noticed that he has gained more muscle mass as a result of training in swimming and soccer classes,” she says.
But the effect of the program stretches beyond the physical, Jassim's sense of responsibility and independence increased after he began participating in the program, with his mother saying: "Setting a weekly date to attend swimming and sports lessons has made my son more appreciative of the value of time, and time-organizing is very important for people with Autism, and their families as well.
Setting a weekly date to attend swimming and sports lessons has made my son more appreciative of the value of time, and time-organizing is very important for people with Autism.
"Jassim's participation in sport, playing with his peers, has increased his ability to communicate, and the program has provided him with the necessary space to learn more about his abilities and enhance his self-confidence."
She also highlights the key role played by the trainers in the program, saying: "The team in charge of the program are wonderful, and my son has bonded with them a lot - I always see happiness in his eyes, from the time he arrives at the program to when he leaves."
I always see happiness in his eyes, from the time he arrives at the program to when he leaves.
Aysha hopes that programs such as this will lead to the formation of a national sporting team for people with Autism in the future, saying: "These programs help to discover sports talents among those with Autism, and I hope that such programs will help in the future to form a team of people with Autism to represent Qatar in international sports competitions".
I hope that such programs will help in the future to form a team of people with Autism to represent Qatar in international sports competitions
QF’s Qader Award is intended to ensure people with specific needs and disabilities – including those with Autism, learning difficulties, and hearing, visual, and physical challenges – can join the Ability Friendly Program at no cost, meaning financial circumstances pose no barrier to participation.
Those granted the award – which is available to people aged four years and above for swimming, and five years and above for football – can enroll in one of QF’s accessible sports programs for a full academic year free of cost. Applications for the 2021/22 academic year are now open until May 8, and for more details and to apply, visit www.educationcity.qa/en/qader-award