Seeing new opportunities in sport
Updated: 2013-10-15 11:23
By Xu Lin (chinadaily.com.cn)
Yang says she used to spend a lot of time at home, and became depressed. But since she joined Hongdandan's activities such as group singing, her physical and mental health has improved.
The games are also positive for the volunteers. "This is the first time I volunteered to help visually challenged people. They are very optimistic and share with me their stories. Their good attitude also makes me more positive," says Han Yu, 24, a postgraduate from Beijing Sport University.
"For the first time, I feel I'm important and I have to be very careful to protect Yang. For example, I will tell her when to turn a corner while walking. My secret to run the three-legged race was to keep pace with Yang," Han says.
Yan Dan, 72, a retired teacher who became visually impaired 10 years ago, says she has joined the sports meeting to make her life colorful.
"I was very depressed when my eyesight became bad because nobody understood me. After meeting people who had the same condition in Hongdandan, I become tougher and learn a lot from them," says Yan.
The sports meeting also receives professional medical assistance.
"We should raise society's awareness about this group. With our professional medical team here, the participants will feel safe psychologically. We've brought sufficient facilities as well," says Li Chenghui, director of department of anesthesiology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital.
Besides a medical team of eight members, the hospital also sent five volunteers to help the visually challenged. Li says they will have more cooperation with Hongdandan. For example, they will deliver speeches about how to stay healthy and record audio books about health for the visually impaired.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Hongdandan organized trips to the Water Cube and the Bird's Nest (the Beijing National Stadium) for visually impaired people to "watch" games, with volunteers describing the details.
"At that time, many said they hoped to have their own sports meeting, so we started one to offer them a platform to enjoy sports," says Hongdandan's secretary-general Zheng Xiaojie, who founded the non-government organization in 2003.
She says because of visual impairment, most of them rarely join social activities, and have few opportunities to exercise. The sports meeting can not only enhance their quality of life and increase their self-confidence, but also make the society understand them more.
"It's better to have an exercise yard with rubber runways, so we could hold more contests, such as the tandem bicycle game, with volunteers riding in front to control the direction. In 2009, we had the contest and it was very popular."
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