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IMG RELIANCE STUDENT-ATHLETES FORGE BOND WITH COMMUNITY THROUGH SPECIAL OLYMPICS

Apr 26, 2011 - Source: IMG Academies

A number of young Indian scholars attending IMG Academies as part of the IMG Reliance Scholarship Program are embracing a new relationship with the Special Olympics Manatee County. The Special Olympics affiliation is among a number of new area connections for IMG through its community outreach initiative, which provides students and staff a collective opportunity to give back to a community that has provided IMG Academies with a home base for decades.   
“With one of the most diverse student bodies in the world, we are always searching for ways to bring our student-athletes closer to one another and to their home-away-from home here in Bradenton,” said Ash Ghaffari, Director, Student Services, IMG Academies. “This new relationship with Special Olympics has already shown itself to be a favorite among our students from India.”
“We’ve started a great relationship with IMG Academies,” echoed Pamela Fazio, Special Olympics Manatee County. “Their students love to come out and help our athletes at practices. It gives the students an opportunity to learn how to help athletes with intellectual disabilities. While they are currently hosting our tennis practices twice weekly, we look forward to building our relationship.”
Twice weekly a group of Special Olympians of varying ages arrive at the world-renowned IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy for a fun and engaging tennis session led by IMG students. Reflective of IMG’s diverse student body, the group features students hailing from countries around the world, and is led by the IMG Reliance scholars.
Twelve-year old IMG Reliance student and aspiring tennis player Nandini Das has quickly emerged as the natural leader of the group. Das, who was hand-selected to take part in the IMG Reliance program by legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri and his coaches, said: “It makes me so happy to interact with them. They face challenges and tennis is something we do every day so we can impart our learnings while having fun.” Fellow Indian tennis player Ojasvinee Singh said, “I like coming out here because it feels good to share with someone who does not have everything we have. I want to give them more and make sure they leave with a good experience and feel good about themselves.”
Das and Singh are joined in these collaborative sessions by members of the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams at IMG, as well as members of the U15 Indian National Team who train at IMG full-time.