Special Olympics of Thailand
I want to shed light on a lesser known non-profit in Thailand, but a well established International organization – The Special Olympics of Thailand or SOT. The Special Olympics focuses on individuals who suffer from intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) ranging from 8 to 80. They help empower individuals enabling them to take control of their own lives. Individual and team sports are used to develop their motor skills, confidence, mental aptitude and interaction with society.
I personally volunteered with SOT for about year and half now at first as a Basketball coach, trainer, and most recently as part of the fundraising team. It has been one of the most awarding activities in my life.
One kid I work with constantly, first entered the program extremely shy, an able to socialize and interact with others without turning semi-violent, and unable to communicate his feelings at all has done a complete 180 within a year. I remember a time; he completely ran circling the water bucket because he was thirsty and couldn’t find a cup. He eventually just stopped and fainted with his tongue hanging out! It took me forever just to figure out what he wanted. I later found out his Aunt used “negative” methods to teach him not to dunk his head when he’s thirsty in the water barrel at home. He used to instantly cry every time anyone even got near him. Now, every time he comes to camp he has cheesy smile and runs up to hug me. He is able to clean his house and watch himself without too much burden on his Aunt & Uncle.
SOT only has 4 paid employees who currently coordinate and oversee over 10,000 “special athletes” in the organization. The rest are teachers, doctors, and individuals who volunteer to help run the programs in individual provinces (broken down into 4 sections, North, Northeast, South, Central.) SOT holds events all throughout the year, “development” camps and medical check-ups all free of charge to the individuals.
According to Ministry of Public Health, Thailand has about 1.5 million registered intellectually disabled citizens. The Special Olympics of Thailand would like to help these individuals but unfortunately they do not have the funds to reach out. Due to the lack of support and awareness, SOT lack the notoriety of the other non-profits, therefore they must make due with their very limited budget.
It’s nearing the end of the year, and tax season is not too far away again. Many of BKK’s workers are looking for ways to get a couple tax breaks especially those in the higher income bracket. Red Cross and Unicef in Thailand are great organizations, but in my opinion they’re so filled with bureaucracy that money donated takes an extremely long time to reach those who should be benefiting if ever.
You can help to support Special Olympics Thailand in many ways. Individual donation to cover training and competition expense of each athlete amounts to 600 Baht per year. Corporate sponsorship supporting event organization costs are most welcome as well as contributions of food and beverages for these activities. Yes, even bringing a few trays of food for our events will help! You can also rest assured, the money you donate will actually be put to the athletes instead of someone’s salary!
If you would like to donate or volunteer to the Special Olympics of Thailand, or have any questions please contact the SOT National office at 02 266 6705 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org