As a special needs student from Metta School, Sarhan Bin Zuhir competed in the Special Olympics World Games 2019 for Bowling and won a Bronze medal in Singles and Silver medal in Male Doubles.
For students with special needs like Sarhan, juggling school work and being an athlete comes with difficulties and challenges. They often face zero to few options in finding insurance policies offering healthcare or travel coverage for existing disabilities.
This is why FWD formed a three-year partnership with Special Olympics in 2018 to help transform the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, empowering them with the confidence and opportunity to realise their full potential and live life to the fullest.
Sarhan Bin Zuhir, Bowler in Special Olympics World Games 2019
Sarhan is one of those lives that FWD has helped.
For the 2019 Special Olympics Abu Dhabi games, FWD took a further step to be even more inclusive for people with pre-existing disabilities, by working with its underwriters and reinsurers to provide travel insurance for 100+ athletes from both Hong Kong and Singapore.
For Sarhan, winning the bronze medal in Singles and silver medal in Males Doubles in the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Bowling was a tremendous achievement. Not only did it make his parents and relatives proud, but it also gave him hope and encouragement in attaining greater achievements and a brighter future.
Being a student and an athlete at the same time is challenging for him and his caregiver. And like the rest of us, he has to find ways to overcome difficulties and challenges, and even more so as a youth with disabilities.
The lead up to the games was stressful as Sarhan had to attend multiple training camps and go through multiple selection processes that eventually selected him to represent his country.
But knowing that FWD would be fully sponsoring his travel insurance, Sarhan said he had one less worry on his mind, and this allowed him and his family the peace of mind as he competed on the global stage at Abu Dhabi.
Words of self-encouragement
Like the rest of us, Sarhan has bad days. And when he has bad days, he will frame his mind positively and repeat words of self-encouragement and affirmation to himself.
“After all, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. It’s really how we choose to focus on our strengths. I consistently try to tell myself that I have done well, and then train even harder and listen to my coach to ensure even greater improvements,” he said.
He added, “Keep on achieving! Don’t give up and keep going no matter how tough it gets. Continuously put in more effort and determination every time you try again.”
Insurance gap for people with disabilities
FWD has identified and recognised this gap in insurance/healthcare for youth with disabilities and wanted to help raise awareness on it. Around the world, a few meaningful steps have been taken in terms of social inclusion of youth with disabilities.
However, there is still much to be done for people with disabilities in Singapore and Hong Kong when it comes to life protection, mainly due to limited access to insurance because of pre-existing condition exclusions.
By advocating equal insurance coverage, FWD wants to promote social inclusion of youth with intellectual disabilities across Asia – to empower them, so they can also live an independent and fulfilling life. And at the same time sponsoring the travel policy provides peace of mind to the caregivers, especially when it is the first time travelling and competing abroad for some and in a new environment.
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