Take masks off when walking from one house to the next; Walk instead of running; Glow sticks are also an excellent method to increase a child’s visibility. You might want to consider creating a fun necklace with string to ensure they will want to wear as part of their costumes. Wear a costume that is properly fitted to reduce the chance of tripping on it. Stay away from animals you are not familiar with; and Only visit houses that are lit; Shoes should fit properly even if they do not go well with a costume. Do not cut across lawns or take short-cuts; Vandalism is not just a ‘trick’ – it is against the law and has consequences.Above all, have a safe and ghoulishly good Halloween! Wear a light-coloured or bright costume, reflective tape or arm bands to heighten visibility. With Halloween tonight, the RCMP have released a number of safety tips.Halloween Safety Tips‘Tis the season for ghosts and ghouls! But beware, with Halloween fast approaching the safety of your children should be foremost. Keep these useful safety tips in mind before heading out for your Halloween festivities.- Advertisement -Have fun but keep safe!Around the house…Many people enjoy transforming their homes into eerie scenes. Be sure to keep the path leading up to your door free of obstacles for the little ones, especially those with masks and limited vision.Advertisement If a child’s costume requires the use of props, such as a flexible-plastic sword, make sure the sharp tip is cut or filed round. FireworksPlease be aware that in many BC communities, the use of fireworks is strictly prohibited by law.Each and every Hallowe’en, hospital emergency rooms prepare for an influx of children and adults with firework-associated injuries.Parents are urged to be alert to the many dangers posed to young people who are allowed to use fireworks at Hallowe’en.To summarize, make your ‘Trick or Treating’ fun and safeBring a flashlight; Select a costume that is constructed from flame-retardant materials. Keep pets indoors on Halloween to protect them from hazards and to protect ‘trick or treaters’.Before you light those candles in your pumpkin, consider using safety glow sticks. Nothing says creepy like a glowing jack-o-lantern.CostumesIt is important to remember that when helping a child pick out a costume or when choosing one for the grownups, safety should be top of mind.Advertisement Make sure your vision is not restricted. Consider completing your costume with make-up rather than masks. Masks may require that the eye-holes be cut larger for the sake of good peripheral vision. Stay on the sidewalks (If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left-hand side of the street facing traffic).Don’t jaywalk.Stop and check for cars before crossing the street. Accessorize with a flashlight. Do not go inside houses and do not get into vehicles; Talk about being ‘street smart’ before your children go out.Before the kids hit the streets, it is important that parents be aware of the route that their children plan to follow.If you are unable to take them out yourself, consider asking another parent, an older sibling or babysitter to do the honours for you.Ensuring your child is wearing a watch also allows you to establish an agreed upon curfew.Teach your children to recognize the places along his/her route where they can obtain help: Police Station, Fire Station or any other well indicated public place.Advertisement Bring your treats homeAlthough tampering of loot is rare, remind children that they must have their candy inspected by their parents or guardian prior to eating them. Advertisement
(Visited 669 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Stone tools and bones on islands show that Neanderthals and other “archaic Homo” individuals must have sailed there.Paleoanthropologists have been wiping egg off their faces for years now, after continual findings reinforce the fact that Neanderthals were just as smart and capable as we are (29 April 2019), not dumb caveman brutes like evolutionists had portrayed for a century.Earliest occupation of the Central Aegean (Naxos), Greece: Implications for hominin and Homo sapiens’ behavior and dispersals (Science). Unless you’re Jesus, you don’t get to an island by walking on water. How did artifacts dated at 200,000 Darwin Years get to islands in the Aegean Sea? This paper tentatively suggests that the makers boated there. Unless geologists can prove land bridges, or that the islands were in shallow water that enabled wading, that’s the only reasonable explanation – and it changes the view of the intelligence of Neanderthals and other “hominins” that were supposedly more primitive than modern humans.Here, we detail evidence from excavations at the chert source of Stelida on what today is the island of Naxos in the middle of the Aegean Basin, where paleodosimetric dates suggest that hominins were present in the region by 200 ka ago, accessing the chert quarry during a glacial lowstand when exposed land connected Anatolia to continental Southeast Europe, by seafaring, or through some combination of the two (Fig. 1). Throughout the remainder of the Pleistocene, this region was occupied and/or traversed at least sporadically, including by early H. sapiens ~40 to 30 ka ago (who may have arrived by boat), and later by indisputably seafaring Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of the Early Holocene.Naxos sits in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Nearest mainland is 75-90 miles away. (Google Earth)Scientists find early humans moved through Mediterranean earlier than believed (Science Daily). As usual, the paleoanthropologists were shocked by what they find. How did dumb brutes cross seas? Naxos is an island!An international research team led by scientists from McMaster University has unearthed new evidence in Greece proving that the island of Naxos was inhabited by Neanderthals and earlier humans at least 200,000 years ago, tens of thousands of years earlier than previously believed.Notice they’re talking about “earlier humans” than Neanderthals. This would have to be Homo erectus or other members of Homo, which creationists argue are true humans. If they boated over to islands, they were not transitional forms from apes.In this paper, the team details evidence of human activity spanning almost 200,000 years at Stelida, a prehistoric quarry on the northwest coast of Naxos. Here early Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and earlier humans used the local stone (chert) to make their tools and hunting weapons, of which the team has unearthed hundreds of thousands.Reams of scientific data collected at the site add to the ongoing debate about the importance of coastal and marine routes to human movement. While present data suggests that the Aegean could be crossed by foot over 200,000 years ago, the authors also raise the possibility that Neanderthals may also have fashioned crude seafaring boats capable of crossing short distances.If “earlier humans” were there, they also had to use boats. Why did they have to be “crude” seafaring boats? If made of wood to float, there would likely be no trace left after just a few decades or centuries, so the researchers are just imagining they were crude.The findings, published today in the journal Science Advances, are based on years of excavations and challenge current thinking about human movement in the region — long thought to have been inaccessible and uninhabitable to anyone but modern humans. The new evidence is leading researchers to reconsider the routes our early ancestors took as they moved out of Africa into Europe and demonstrates their ability to adapt to new environmental challenges.The evolutionary paleoanthropologists are proposing that archaic human beings boated repeatedly over the sea to get chert on this island for tools, suggesting this was a frequent trip they made. The time frame for this occupation, in their dating, covers 150,000 years. In all that time, did they never think about building cities, planting farms, or domesticating animals. If they were smart enough to boat across the sea, is that plausible?Evolutionists cannot admit they were wrong, so we have expose them. They hide their shame in Tontological phrases like “this challenges current thinking” and goes against what was “long thought.” Whose thinking? Who ‘long thought’ that? Did you? Don’t let them sweep you into their mythology. The gig is up, evolutionists: your story of human evolution fell apart, and with it falls the moyboy timeline. These sailors were real people, not evolving apes. They were living not that long ago: thousands of years, not hundreds of thousands. The facts fit the Tower of Babel dispersion described in the Bible: post-Flood explorers migrating long distances and settling wherever they could, using their intelligent human brains to find materials to make tools. It took some time, but not a long time, for them to settle down in permanent dwellings, then towns, then cities. That makes sense. Living in caves for 20 times the length of recorded human history does not.
4 August 2006South Africans rank fourth in the world for pride in their country, according to a recent report by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago in the US.The report, released in June, was based on a survey of people in 34 countries carried out by the International Social Survey Program, a consortium of survey researchers throughout the world.Countries surveyed were mostly in Europe and the Americas, with several Asian countries represented. Israel was the only Middle Eastern country included.The researchers asked people about their pride in 10 specific areas of their country: its democratic system; political influence in the world; economic success; social security; science and technological achievements; sports; arts and literature; military; history; and fair treatment of all groups in society.My country right or wrong?A second set of questions tested people’s general national pride, asking to what extent they agreed with such statements as, “I would rather be a citizen of my country than any other country in the world,” “Generally speaking, my country is a better country than most countries”, and “I would support my country even if it were in the wrong.”In area-specific pride, the United States led with an average score of 3.6, followed by Venezuela (3.9), Ireland (6.9), South Africa (7.9), Australia (7.9) and Canada (9.6). (A top score of 1.0 would be achieved if citizens rated their country as number one in all 10 areas.)On the general pride measure, people in Venezuela scored 18.4 (out of a possible 25), followed by people in the US (17.7), Australia (17.5), Austria (17.4), South Africa (17), Canada (17), Chile (17.1), New Zealand (16.6) and Israel (16.2).So, while Venezuela led on general national pride and finished second on area-specific pride, the US scored first on the latter and second on the former.New nations, former coloniesAlthough these two countries have been at odds over a variety of issues recently, they share a common trait with most of the top 10 countries in the national pride survey – they are both relatively new nations that once were colonies.“These countries formed their national identities through conflicts that bound their people together and created a national story that resonates with citizens,” said Tom Smith, author of the report and director of the General Social Survey at the NORC.Patriotism is mostly a “New World” concept, the survey found: while former colonies and newer nations were more likely to rank high on the list, Western European, East Asian and former Socialist countries tended to rank near the middle or bottom.National pride serves as a resource to buttress people’s fortitude during times of adversity, Smith said. Levels of pride in specific areas help shape dimensions of national identity, such as how people define a true member of their national group.Globalism; bad mannersCountries that were part of the former Soviet Union or in the former Eastern Bloc ranked lower because they were still struggling to find new national identities, Smith said.The countries at the bottom of the list were generally established countries in Europe. “It could be that those nations are experiencing a response to globalism, particularly among young people,” Smith said. “Many identify as much as being Europeans as they do as being citizens of their own country.“In some European nations,” he added, “the concept of strong patriotism also has negative connotations.”Cultural differences, Smith said, might explain the lower rankings of the three Asian countries on the list – Japan (18), Taiwan (29) and Korea (31) – where it is “both bad luck and poor manners” to be boastful about things.Response to terrorismIn a separate report published in March, Smith and co-author Seokho Kim examined changes in national pride over the past decade, and found that countries with growing national pride were those that had experienced terrorist attacks on their citizens, such as the United States and Australia.The study also found that within the surveyed countries, national pride was generally lower among minority groups, people with higher levels of education, and younger adults.Ranking for (area-specific) national pride:United StatesVenezuelaIrelandSouth AfricaAustraliaCanadaPhilippinesAustriaNew ZealandChileGreat BritainIsraelUruguayFinlandSpainDenmarkSwitzerlandJapanFrancePortugalHungaryBulgariaNorwayRussiaSwedenSloveniaGermany (West)Czech RepublicTaiwanLatviaKoreaSlovakiaPolandGermany (East)SouthAfrica.info reporter Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo material
Doing business in South Africa is favourable for now, according to a study on economic freedom by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But three Johannesburg businessmen warn that rising stock prices are reducing profit margins and can stifle trade. Small to medium-sized businesses are benefitting from South Africa’s moderately free economy. (Image: Brand South Africa) Shamin ChibbaThe mild-mannered Yusoof Akhalwaya sits in a dimly lit corner of his Akhalz restaurant in Mayfair, Johannesburg, talking about the business’s history. “It started with fish and chips in Lenasia. Solly’s mother, Zulfikah, used to sell fish and chips outside her house.”The restaurant grew from a small take-away to what is now a thriving chain that stretches from Lenasia in south Johannesburg to Laudium in Pretoria, with branches in Sandton City, The Zone @Rosebank, Woodmead and about a dozen more in between.This is thanks to South Africa’s economic freedom, which allows for businesses such as Akhalz to thrive. “South Africa is lenient in terms of business freedom,” says Akhalwaya.The 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, released earlier this year, ranks South Africa 80th out of 186 countries, deeming it “moderately free”, despite slipping eight places from the previous year. It places higher than its BRICS partners.Read Brand South Africa’s analysis of the 2016 Index of Economic FreedomConducted by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, the index covers 10 measures, including property rights, business freedom and monetary freedom.South Africa has improved in four of the 10 measures: freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, government spending and trade freedom. Its financial freedom score has remained stable – ranked 38th – thanks to a gradually evolving financial system and a resilient banking sector.However, the country’s biggest challenge comes from three measures, namely business, labour and monetary freedoms. Of the three, business freedom has taken the biggest knock. Business freedom measures how easy it is for people to start, operate and close a business.There are still challenges to starting a business but the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and even Absa’s one-stop shop is trying to make the procedure less painful.View the interactive graph of the 2016 Index of Economic FreedomStarting a business is easyFor Bangladeshi Kamal Uddin it was easy to open a shop in Johannesburg. He is part owner of a general dealer with his brother. They opened the shop in Mayfair 14 years ago. “It was easy to open up a small shop with the little money we had.”Today, they have extended the store, which has grown to become a central part of the landscape of the suburb, which lies on the western edge of the inner city.While Uddin’s business freedom might be favourable, Akhalz is struggling to regain its monetary freedom – combining price stability with an assessment of price controls – which is restricted by rising food prices.Rising pricesAkhalwaya’s father, Mohammed, opened the Mayfair Akhalz branch in 1990 when the cost of food was low. In 1996, two polony specials cost R19. Today, the same order is R76. “Food has gone up by 80% this year,” says Akhalwaya. “It is getting more expensive. It’s R80 for a bag of potatoes.”The manager of Autostyle, Junaid Mohamed, says his company is also affected by rising prices in the automotive accessories industry. As a result, the shop has had to reduce its profit margins.But the company is no stranger to challenges. Autostyle’s story is of two Mohameds, friends who became business partners when they started Autostyle in Mayfair 25 years ago. “They started out of survival,” says Mohamed. “While in school, one Mohamed was selling broken biscuits door-to-door. The other Mohamed sold hats on the side of the road. They also installed car radios for friends for a small amount.”But their break came when they bought a spoiler through Junk Mail and advertised it in newspaper classifieds. They sold it for a profit and from then on, they did the same for other parts until they bought a small space in Mayfair and opened Autostyle.Community supportIts community of supporters helps Autostyle. It stays in business as it has a community of clients who love its service.The same can be said of Akhalz, whose regular clientele goes far beyond Mayfair and Fordsburg. Originally known as Akhalwaya’s, the chain recently took on the moniker Akhalz, which is somewhat of a salute to its customers, who have been using this shortened version for many years already.“We have to be super grateful for the support from the community. And it’s not just customers from Mayfair. People come from as far as Soweto and Morningside for our food. All our customers have kept us strong,” says Akhalwaya.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN OUTCOME 8In 2030, the terrible spatial legacy of apartheid has finally been broken. South Africans have humane and environmentally sustainable living and working conditions. Their homes have all the basic services they need and are closer to their workplaces, to which they travel in safe public transport.• Overview• Document downloads• Quality basic education• Health care for all• Safety & freedom from fear• Economy & employment• A skilled workforce• Economic infrastructure• Vibrant rural communities• Sustainable human settlements• Accountable local government• Natural environment• South Africa in the world• Efficient public service• Inclusive social protection• Nation building, social cohesion Human settlements – DownloadsFind out more about the National Development Plan.• National Development Plan – full text• National Development Plan – Chapter 8: Transforming human settlement and the national space economy• Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014 to 2019 – Outcome 8: Sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life• Infographic: Transforming human settlement and the national space economyHuman settlements – The visionThe National Development Plan’s vision is that, in 2030, human settlements in South Africa have been transformed into equitable and efficient spaces with citizens living in close proximity to work with access to social facilities and necessary infrastructure.Apartheid spatial patterns have been broken, with significant advances made towards retrofitting existing settlements offering the majority of South Africans access to adequate housing and affordable services in better living environments. The homebuyers’ market is more equitable and functional.By 2030:• South Africa has a strong and efficient spatial planning system, well integrated across the spheres of government.• All informal settlements have been upgraded and are positioned on suitable, well-located land.• More people live closer to their places of work.• Public transport is of good quality.• There are more jobs in or close to dense, urban townships.Human settlements – The challengesApartheid planning consigned the majority of South Africans to places far away from work, where services could not be sustained, and where it was difficult to access the benefits of society and participate in the economy.A great deal of progress has been made since 1994, but South Africa is far from achieving the Reconstruction and Development Programme goals of “breaking down apartheid geography through land reform, more compact cities, decent public transport and the development of industries and services that use local resources and/or meet local needs”.Despite reforms to the planning system, colonial and apartheid legacies still structure space across different scales.Many people still live in poverty traps, including the former homelands, where less than 30% of adults are employed – compared to 55% in the cities). One in two households depends on social grants or remittances, compared with one in six in cities.Logistics and communication lines are long because of sheer scale, making infrastructure maintenance difficult and movement of goods and people costly.Over two decades into democracy, towns and cities remain fragmented, imposing high costs on households and the economy. The housing market’s enormous price cliffs act as barriers for most black South Africans to progress up the property ladder. New, subsidised settlements have created homes for nearly 4-million households, but are often too far from economic opportunities.Human settlements – Action requiredThere is an urgent need for an urban development strategy to make urban spaces liveable, equitable, sustained, resilient and efficient – able to support economic growth and social cohesion.The National Development Plan mandates a series of interconnected interventions required to address economic solutions, institutional reforms, change to land management systems and infrastructure investment.Apartheid spatial patterns must be broken, replaced with a more coherent and inclusive approach to development and urban planning. The fractured housing market requires significant reform.Specific action includes:• Reforms to the current planning system for improved coordination.• Develop a strategy for densification of cities and resource allocation to promote better located housing and settlements.• Substantial investment to ensure safe, reliable and affordable public transport.• Introduce spatial development framework and norms, including improving the balance between location of jobs and people.• Conduct a comprehensive review of the grant and subsidy regime for housing with a view to ensure diversity in product and finance options that would allow for more household choice and greater spatial mix and flexibility. This should include a focused strategy on the housing gap market, involving banks, subsidies and employer housing schemes.• National spatial restructuring fund, integrating currently defused funding.• Establish a national observatory for spatial data and analysis.• Provide incentives for citizen activity for local planning and development of spatial compacts.• Introduce mechanisms that would make land markets work more effectively for the poor and support rural and urban livelihoods.Human settlements – Key medium-term goals for 2019South Africa’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (2014 to 2019) identifies the following sub-outcomes achieve sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life.• Adequate housing and improved quality living environments• A functionally equitable residential property market• Enhanced institutional capability for effective coordination of spatial investment decisionsHuman settlements – Key medium-term targets for 2019South Africa’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (2014 to 2019) identifies the following targets to achieve sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life.GRAPHIC: MARY ALEXANDERResearched, edited and compiled by Mary AlexanderUpdated December 2015
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Potential for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the “lame duck” session of Congress all but came to a halt last week when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in an upset over Hillary Clinton. Throughout his campaign, Trump has been an outspoken opponent of the 12-country deal, which includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.“I think the TPP is dead, and there will be blood all over the floor if somebody tries to move that through the Congress anytime soon,” Trump confidant Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told reporters.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed Sessions’ statement.“It’s certainly not going to get brought up this year,” he said.Still, there is hope for TPP in other parts of the world. Japan’s lower house of Parliament this week passed the TPP. Japan’s upper house has to give final approval, which could happen later this month. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to meet with Trump this week. President Obama will be meeting with leaders from the 11 other TPP countries at the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru this week.
There are different kinds of compelling content that you can create to market and build your brand on the Internet. Each of these individual types of content creates a different outcome, even though some of them may overlap.Entertaining: Entertaining content is excellent for gaining attention. Content that is entertaining is also easily shared. The nature of the content and its novelty attracts attention. A causes people to stop and take notice. It serves as a distraction from the day-to-day, and if it causes them to enjoy themselves, it serves its purpose. It is easy for people to be compelled to spend time with entertaining content.Inspirational: Inspirational content will also get you attention. Even though it may not really inspire someone to take action, it reminds them that they have the power to be more, do more, and have more. When content speaks to an individual’s purpose, their meaning, or who they aspire to be, the people drawn to this type of content are often compelled to take action, even if it is only sharing it.Educational: Educational content teaches your readers. It can teach them how to think about something, or it can teach them how to do something. In many ways, this content is more useful than entertaining or inspirational content. For businesses, this type of content often produces the best results when it comes to content marketing.Checking More Than One BoxNo matter what, the content you create should achieve one of the primary outcomes above. But it doesn’t have to fall into a single category. In fact, often the more boxes you can check, the more compelling the content.Content written to educate your dream client while also entertaining and inspiring them to take action is the most compelling content you can create (even if it isn’t easy to create content that hits all these notes).If you want to attract serious B2B clients, start from “educational.” The most important outcome for you and be to be sales and marketing is to create a compelling case for change by educating your dream clients. If you can make it entertaining without losing the seriousness of your case, that will help make it more engaging and more useful. Too much on the inspirational and aspirational may also cause your prospective clients to discount your message, if it feels like it is snake oil.What content do you need to create?
The discussion on the Odisha Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017, and the Odisha Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2017, will be held in the Odisha Assembly on Friday.The two Bills were introduced by Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera when the two-day special session of the House began on Thursday morning. The proceedings, however, were adjourned till 3 p.m. after the Opposition sought more time to study the contents of the Bills before discussion on the issues involved. The issue was then discussed in the Business Advisory Committee of the Assembly.When the House reassembled at 3 p.m., Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat announced that the Advisory Committee had decided both Bills will be taken up for discussion on Friday and adjourned the House for the day.While introducing the Bills, Mr. Behera said that one tax structure would prevail across the country as for the new Goods and Services Tax that has been passed in Parliament.He said that the Odisha Goods and Services Tax Bill provides provisions to levy tax on all inter-State supply of goods or services except supply of liquor for human consumption at a rate to be notified as recommended by the Goods and Services Tax Council.More time soughtLeader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress then raised objections stating that the Bills were being pushed through in a hurry without giving adequate time for the members to go through their contents, and sought more time for the legislators.
Ramesh Bais, a seven-time MP from Chhattisgarh’s Raipur and former Union minister, was on Monday sworn in as the Governor of Tripura, an official said. The Chief Justice of Tripura High Court, Justice Sanjay Karol, administered oath of office to Mr. Bais in the presence of Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and senior officials of the administration.Mr. Bais, 71, who succeeded Kaptan Singh Solanki, was accorded the guard of honour at the lawn of the old Raj Bhavan building here. Speaking on the occasion, the Governor said that he would work for the all-round development of the State. The Chief Minister said that he had known Mr. Bais since 1999 and the new Governor’s experiences will be beneficial for the State.
Can and able: Mentally challenged children in Delhi prepare for the GamesTushar Bhatia’s eyes, twinkling from behind thick glasses, and the unruly black hair covering his forehead make him look like a chubby Harry Potter, straight out of a J.K. Rowling book.Like any other 11-year-old, life centres on school. The,Can and able: Mentally challenged children in Delhi prepare for the GamesTushar Bhatia’s eyes, twinkling from behind thick glasses, and the unruly black hair covering his forehead make him look like a chubby Harry Potter, straight out of a J.K. Rowling book.Like any other 11-year-old, life centres on school. The class he enjoys most is computers; he has recently learnt a lot about making files. He is fond of music and dance and admires Shah Rukh Khan’s brand of footloose eurhythmics.Some day when he is “grown up” and has “a big black moustache” he might marry Rani Mukherjee, his Bollywood dream girl. Among other things he loves, mention sports and Tushar’s face lights up-he enjoys being on the field with the wind in his hair. But he is not just another child treading the usual path of school, college and a white-collar job. Tushar is “special”.The endearing things he says have to be heard carefully, or you might miss their meaning completely. And you might have to repeat yourself a few times before he is able to respond.Tushar is one of the thousands of children born every year with various types of brain damage. He attends classes at Tamana, one of Delhi’s dozen or so “Special Schools”. Life for these children and their parents is hard. It is a continuous battle against odds that are as intimidating as they are disheartening.Just about a year ago, however, preparations began for an event that is today bringing ringing laughter (not unaccompanied by tears of joy and pride for parents) into their lives-the National Games 2002 organised by the Special Olympics Bharat (SOB), the Indian chapter of the organisation that holds an international sports meet called the Special Olympics for “special” children.Twelve sport disciplines ranging from the standard track-and-field and basketball to specially formulated ones like “floor hockey” (similar to ice hockey but played on a smooth, non-ice surface) and the 100 m “walk” are all part of the schedule. Athletes selected in this meet will represent India at the Special Olympics in Dublin, Ireland, next year.advertisementThere is great enthusiasm for the event after SOB took some radical decisions last year. While the SOB is no newcomer to India (it has been around for almost 20 years), the participation level had been deeply disappointing, leaving organisers wondering what they had to do to make it an event that would make a difference in the lives of these children.First, SOB shifted its headquarters from Bangalore to Delhi. State committees to organise sports were set up in 26 states. The professional approach paid rich dividends. From a few thousands over the years, the SOB movement managed an explosion of registrations, with 20,000 special participants registering by the beginning of 2002.Special camps focusing on training parents and volunteers as coaches for special children were organised with experts coming from Washington. A huge public-relations drive was undertaken.SOB approached state governments for their cooperation in holding the National Games 2002, which were held in seven cities-Chennai, Pondicherry, Kochi, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Delhi- through September and October.The focus is not “faster, higher, stronger”. It’s about giving every special child a chance to be cheered by onlookers, to be a part of a movement and feel as if he or she belongs.There is an instant sparkle in Tushar’s eyes as he describes how he took part in the inaugural torch run in Delhi on September 7 and actually got to hold the torch. Sonia Singh, 25, who has participated in the track-and-field events in the past few years, is looking forward to her events this year as well.”I’m definitely going to win a medal,” she says, busy training with obvious enjoyment at Delhi’s National Stadium despite sneakers that are torn and a wish for “a new T-shirt”. Piyush Jain, another Delhi participant, is competing in the 100 m walk. He grins indulgently at Sonia’s wish, almost as if to say, “Girls! Always wanting new clothes,” and continues with his warm-up exercises.SOB coach Harpreet Singh says that participating alone can make a world of difference to the child. He recalls how many of those who took part in the games earlier came out of the experience with a new confidence and began responding with surprising success to their school curriculum.Some participants of previous years have since left their special schools to go out and take up employment in the outside world. Says SOB Chairman Air Marshal (Retd) Denzil Keelor: “These children are beautiful and talented too. They just need to be given a chance and they will amaze you with what they can do.” Such is the magic of the Special Olympics. Young Tushar, for one, would agree.advertisement