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Special Olympics UAE Launches Unified Robotics 2020

by Eddie Rayner

Special Olympics UAE announced today the launch of Unified Robotics 2020; its STEM-based enrichment programme that brings together children of all abilities to work together in Unified teams on robotics via a purpose-built gamified platform. Registration is open for Unified Robotics 2020 and teams can register through this link. Unified Robotics targets neuro-diverse children in mainstream education and caters to two age groups 8-11 and 12+.

The programme kicks off on 9-17 November for children aged 8-11 years and between 18-26 November for children aged12+years. The virtual iteration of the Unified Robotics programme is designed to factor the impact of Covid-19 on education and the consequential move to distance learning.

Talal Al Hashemi, National Director, Special Olympics UAE said: “Most people do not associate neuro-diverse children with STEM and robotics, and in our discussions with parents, many said that it is not something that they had considered for their children. But these special boys and girls never cease to amaze us, and evidence shows that they can thrive in these sectors if given the right opportunities.

“Unified Robotics leverages their strengths and helps them develop in areas where they need support, such as communication and collaboration, and we are delighted to be working with our education partners and schools across the UAE to ensure that the maximum number of children benefit from this programme,” he concluded.

Sahar Cooper, CEO of Aldar Education, a Unified Robotics Education Partner, said: “It is an honour to be partnering with Special Olympics UAE on the launch of Unified Robotics 2020. At Aldar Education, we pride ourselves on our inclusive programmes, using technology and innovation to bring all students together. We have been involved in this initiative since 2019, and it is wonderful to see the number of participants grow. We are thrilled to be lending our expertise to support the implementation of a first-rate training programme, and we can’t wait to see the creativity from the participating students.”

Nilesh Korgaonkar, CEO of ATLAB, a Unified Robotics Education Partner, said: “We are excited to collaborate with Special Olympics UAE and provide technical expertise for the virtual implementation of Unified Robotics programme. We have a mission to support community initiatives through providing effective and engaging tools that promote hands-on education. We also believe that every child needs to connect to STEM activities and Robotics, which teaches them self-expression, problem-solving, collaboration, and enhances their confidence. Enabling children to see inclusion in their community and collaboration with like-minded peers builds confidence, strength, and opens many doors for their future.”

Unified Robotics participants, aged 8-11 years, will learn the fundamentals of coding using a simple robot model through a series of tasks and children aged 12+ will customise a virtual robot and take it on a string of missions.

Unified Robotics held its first event in the UAE in November 2019 and attracted over 200 participants from schools across the UAE who worked in unified teams to build robots over a 6-week period, which ended in a live event and awards ceremony on 16 November 2019. Last year’s Unified Robotics event in Abu Dhabi was the first to be held outside the US.