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Civic Participation

Özgür İnam

Özgür İnam Helps Children with Disabilities Sail for a Better Future

On 2 June 2011 Sabancı Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" program hosts Özgür İnam, who implements the "Sale Able Project" in Western Turkey to empower children with visual and hearing impairments through sailing.

In September 2010, 23 participants from Turkey competed at the Special Olympic Games that took place in Warsaw. During these games, where only "special" athletes are allowed, Turkey was represented by athletes in basketball, track, and field, bowling, and table tennis. Turkish athletes came back home with 15 golden, 5 silver and 7 bronze medals. While even an insignificant football rumor takes its place on the headlines in Turkey, the Turkish newspapers did not feature special athletes' tremendous success in the Special Olympics.

Although not all the successes attract the same media attention, behind the headlines there are Changemakers that are determined to hit the headlines with the international successes of special athletes.

Özgür İnam is a professional sailor that has represented Turkey at national and international levels. What separates Özgür İnam from other sailors is an association he established and a project he implements on children with disabilities. With the "Sale Able Project" Özgür İnam aims to facilitate children with disabilities' participation in social life.

Through the "Sail Able Project", 72 persons with disabilities between the ages of 11 and 17 participate in sailing courses in İzmir. Out of these 72, 60 have hearing impairments and 12 have visual impairments. Through a 7 month-long basic sailing training, course participants get a chance to sail in the sea. Every weekend, course participants join their instructors in the morning to take part in the preparation process of the sailing boat and also to learn how to sail. Through sailing, children with disabilities improve their social skills, learn to work in teams, gain confidence, and eventually participate in social life.

Sail Able Project not only rides on the waves of persons with disabilities' dreams but also Özgür İnam's strong determination. His ultimate goal is to establish a Paralympics Sailing Club, train athletes for the upcoming 2012 Paralympics Games in London, and hit the headlines with the success stories of special athletes. "Once given an opportunity, we witnessed that these children were able to improve themselves in a sport that people without disabilities are even hesitant to try," says Özgür İnam.

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