National Assembly President Tsetska Tsacheva urged the newly elected local authorities to encourage and support the access of disabled people to sports facilities in their municipalities. She made thе appeal during the official ceremony on handing out awards to volunteers supporting people with disabilities to participate in sports activities. The initiative was held on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – December 3rd. Special guests at the parliament were the Bulgarian participants in the World Games – Special Olympics 2011 in Athens.
The president of the National Assembly made public the content of the letter she intends to send to the newly elected local officials in the country urging them to support the access of disabled people to sports. As honorary patron of the national campaign “Share the feeling” Tsetska Tsacheva asks them to hold joint discussions with civil organizations on the problems preventing disable people from participating in sports activities. She asked them to organize and support financially, at least once a year, sport tournaments for athletes with intellectual impairments and to work on policies for inclusion and access to sports for all the disabled.
The award ceremony was attended by the Labor and Social Policy Committee chairman Dragomir Stoinev, by Members of the Parliament, by the Ambassador of the United States James Warlick, by representatives of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee, regional administrations, municipalities and civil organizations.
In her welcome address to the participants at the plenary hall of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva said: “I can assure you dear friends that my lasting commitment to your cause is a privilege, honor and responsibility. She underscored that the organization “Special Olympics” gives the opportunity of more than 6000 children and youngsters with intellectual impairments in Bulgaria to be involved in the sports and thus to experience courage and joy, to demonstrate talents and skills, to share friendships.
This commitment, she added, is also a unifying force for the institutions and the local authorities as well as for the whole civil society in the country. The president of the National Assembly confirmed the will of the Bulgarian parliament to ratify next year the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
A video address on behalf of the president of Special Olympics International Timothy Shriver was delivered in the plenary. In the address Mr. Shriver points out that the program of Special Olympics Bulgaria had served as catalyst for social change, contributing to the transformation of the world in a better and friendlier place, adding constantly one more athlete to sports with the help of a volunteer. On occasion of the International Day of People with Disabilities he thanked the president of Bulgaria’s National Assembly and the Members of Parliament, as well as the numerous institutions and organizations which support the volunteers of Special Olympics and their organizations.
Tsetska Tsacheva, Dragomir Stoinev, the American Ambassador James Warlick and the UNICEF representative for Bulgaria Tanya Radochay handed out awards to the volunteers working for access to sports of disabled people.
In the category “National Institution” the award was bestowed to the Director of the main Directorate “Protective Police” of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Marta Dimitrova received the award in the category “Civic Organization” in her capacity as president of the Youth Bureau for Social Services and Civic Initiatives in the city of Pleven. In the category “Sports Organization” the ward went to Zlatolina Mukova – president of a Rider’s Club in the town of Ihtiman. Dr. Paul Johnson, president of the American College in Sofia received the award in the category “School”. In the category “University” the award was handed out to Stoyan Denev – coordinator of a volunteer program at the University of Veliko Tarnovo. The award in category “Regional Administration” was won by Irena Uzunova –Regional Governor of Haskovo. In the last category “Municipality” the award was given to the deputy mayor of Burgas Yordanka Ananieva.
On behalf of “Special Olympics International”, the director for Southeast Europe Marta Joe Braychich handed out to the president of the National Assembly Tsetska Tsacheva the highest distinction “Jubilee Silver Dollar” with the face of Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
The event was organized by “Special Olympics – Bulgaria” and the National Assembly of Bulgaria.