Torch, flyers and shirts are ready: Leoni Jörg (Integration Officer), Mayor Uli Proske, Doris Rauscher (Chairwoman VdK Ebersberg), Peter Hölzer (Head of Department) and Melanie Eglseder (Integration Officer) are looking forward to the 96 guests from France. Photo: julian betzl julian betzl ©
For a good 48 hours in the coming week, the district town of Ebersberg will be an important part of the world's largest inclusive sporting event. The Special Olympics World Games with about 7000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and their Unified Partners (without intellectual disabilities) will take place from June 17 to 25 in Berlin.
Ebersberg – But one of the largest welcoming committees is ready four days before the grand opening ceremony in Berlin's Olympic Stadium right here, in Ebersberg.
BY JULIAN BETZL
More specifically, the county seat will welcome the French delegation. Unlike the Olympic and Paralympic Games, individual nations can sometimes field several men's and women's teams per discipline. Officially, the participants do not appear as a "classic" national team with an anthem or jersey design, but as part of the respective delegation.
In her function as chairwoman of the VdK Ebersberg district association, the city partnership with Yssingeaux gave her the initial spark to initiate the ultimately successful application process as one of more than 200 so-called host towns throughout Germany, reported Doris Rauscher, member of the state parliament, yesterday morning on the sidelines of an information event in the town hall.
In cooperation with VdK, the Kreisjugendring and TSV Ebersberg as well as the Steinhöring Association of Institutions (EVS), Peter Hölzer, head of the city's department in the Office for Family and Culture, and the integration officers Leoni Jörg and Melanie Eglseder have developed a colourful action programme. Always in consultation with the French delegation, which is expected on Monday evening.
According to Rauscher, it was a challenge to find a barrier-free hotel for the 96-member travel group that could meet the special needs of some athletes, such as appropriate cooling and storage facilities for medicines. According to Rauscher, this is just a small example of "the fact that we still have a long way to go when it comes to inclusion".
They finally found what they were looking for in the Hotel Bildungsblick Kirchseeon. With regard to the Ebersberg Host Town program (see box), those responsible emphasize that Tuesday and Wednesday are not about visiting the sights of the district with the French guests.
Rather, the sporting event serves as an austere, but above all inviting stage for encounters between people with, without and without intellectual disabilities. The exceptional sporting talents from France (and all other participating nations) deliberately do not want to isolate themselves in a sports school in order to do as well as possible in the medal table at the largest multi-sport event in this country since the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
They want to come into contact with the citizens of the district, emphasizes Peter Hölzer, in order to contribute "to the fact that this common coexistence is becoming more and more normal". Or as Leoni Jörg describes the benefit of the two days of the program in Ebersberg from the point of view of the guest athletes: "Acclimatization through encounters."
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Fancy a voyage of discovery?
In the everyday lives of many citizens, it is often simply difficult "to simply come into contact with people with disabilities," says Doris Rauscher. Therefore, all citizens of the district and other interested parties are cordially invited to actively participate in as many activities as possible, such as the "Gaudi Olympics" in the forest sports park or the inclusive sports offer on the beach court in the Klosterbauhof, otherwise just drop by.
Peter Hölzer seems to be particularly looking forward to one item on the programme, judging by his smile as he rocks the shiny silver torch back and forth in his hands. Together with the EVS residents, the French delegation will set off on Wednesday afternoon (approx. 15.30 p.m.) in Steinhöring for the torch relay with destination Klosterbauhof Ebersberg. Anyone can run, cheer and rattle.
During his personal test run, he found "that the flame only burns for a maximum of 45 minutes," says Hölzer. Therefore, the umbrella organization of these World Games, Special Olympics International (SOI), sent a second torch from the USA, which is to be lit during the stopover at the village square in Oberndorf and handed over to a second torchbearer group.
At a colourful, public dance evening on Wednesday (from 19 p.m.) in the Alter Speicher ("alors on danse"), the French guests will finally get an impression of what original Schuhplatteln looks like, listen to the inclusive Steinhöringer band "Rotes Motorrad" and let their hips circle under the guidance of TSG Da Capo.
It is the express wish of those responsible in Ebersberg and their approximately 30 volunteers that this inclusion impulse for Ebersberg and the surrounding area does not set off again with the farewell of the French delegation on Thursday morning. "That's why it was very important that the barrier-free new building in the Waldsportpark was completed on time," said Mayor Uli Proske, citing just one prime example of how the idea of inclusion must continue to be taken into account in urban development if one is not part of a world sports festival.
All information about the program and the Special Olympics can be found at www.hosttown-ebersberg.de