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In an effort to celebrate 50 years of the Special Olympics programme worldwide, 15000 athletes, and 5000 coaches from 14 districts have assembled together in the southern state of Kerala. The event is being organised by the joint collaboration of the National Charitable Trust and the Special Olympics Bharat Kerala Chapter. Titled 'Ekata', the initiative brought together athletes from all the districts of Kerala in a unified march at the Laxmibai National College of Physical Education, Greenfield, Thiruvananthapuram. The three-day programme was inaugurated on Thursday in the presence of the Member of Parliament, Mr Shashi Tharoor. The Special Olympics torch was ignited in Kerala on 1st January 2018 to celebrate 50 years of Special Olympics and start the State Athletics meet. The torch started its journey from Kasargod and travelled across all the 14 districts in Kerala before making a halt in Thiruvananthapuram on January 10. Dr Francis Cletus, Chairman of the National Charitable Trust feels that the Government only works for the regular athletes and not for the ones who are physically challenged. "Government only does work for the normal students, but no one cares about students with disabilities. There must be a combined effort to work for them and support them in every possible way to nurture them in sports," said Francis. Other notable persons present during the meet were state officials Matthews D. Thomas (Kerala's Minister for irrigation) and KK Shailaja (Minister of Health and Social Justice). Athletics will be held on Saturday and Sunday with around 7000 sportspersons from 257 special schools taking part in the event which who will compete in 21 disciplines. Roy Kannanchira, the Area Director of Special Olympics Bharat Kerala was all in praise of Kerala and wished that the state will make a difference and treat the physically disabled athletes as an equal with any other personalities from the same sphere. 'Kerala is the land of god. Let's make this a reality, the truth in every sense. Let's include persons with intellectual disabilities and make this place a divine experience,' said Kannanchira.