RC Lahore Model Town, RI District 3272, has kept special and less fortunate children close to its heart by filling the gaps of their health and educational needs from time to time. “Apart from distributing educational and food kits we have conducted polio corrective surgeries, given out braces and crutches to polio survivors, vocational training and assistance for job placement for a few of them,” said DGN Mir Arif Ali, charter secretary of the club and Rotary Day Chairman. He decided to treat his district to “a special day to connect with truly special people,” through the Rotary Sports Festival 2015.
“Right from the venue, menu and return gifts, we wanted to make it special,” as the invitees were 1,200 special children from across 36 institutions for children with special needs and underprivileged schools from the cities of Lahore and Islamabad. At the Mughalpura Cricket Stadium a 60 ft (width) stage with a 20 ft (height) lantern hanging at centre stage, was erected to showcase RI President Gary C K Huang’s theme Light up Rotary.
The event cost — Pak Rs two million, was raised by RC Model Town and other clubs helped in several ways. “Rotarians became referees, DJs, food and beverage managers … they all came together to make it happen. Media coverage by local TV channels enhanced Rotary’s public image in a very special way.”
“Special children are our assets; if properly groomed they will achieve higher standards in all fields. I will try to increase the quota for special children in regular schools, jobs and other institutions,” said Asif Manais, Minister for Special Education, Government of Punjab, Pakistan.
“Games were conducted keeping in mind the guidelines and safety of the children,” and what amazed the Rotarians, Rotaractors, their families and guests was the “flawless performance of the children — they smiled throughout!
These children have restricted outdoor activities but they managed themselves so well,” said Ali. For many children, this was their first sports event.
There was a march-past, bhangra, tribal dances, jugglers, jokers, sports events, food and more. The children had a good time and most important fact was that they were happy, said a teacher.
DG Mansoor ul Haq was so impressed with the special children who participated in different sports activities that he offered to be a “sponsor for next year’s event.” The success of this event has spurred the Rotarians to make this an annual event. Rtn Saleem Ahmad Khan said, “Every child went back home with a smile and a prize.”