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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 April 2019

Humans of New York is in Abu Dhabi to share stories from the Special Olympics

Brandon Stanton's popular New York blog is currently reporting from the UAE capital

Humans of New York is sharing personal stories from the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi. Facebook / Humans of New York
Humans of New York is sharing personal stories from the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi. Facebook / Humans of New York

Humans of New York, or HONY as it is more commonly known, has to be one of the most popular Facebook pages, with more than 18 million fans. For the unfamiliar, the concept is simple: one man, Brandon Stanton, armed with a camera, shares personal stories from people he comes across as they live their day-to-day lives, typically in New York.

For the next week, however, Stanton will be in the UAE, passing on messages from the Special Olympics World Games – Abu Dhabi

The stories he shares are often touching and regularly funny. They are almost always uplifting, inspirational and deeply personal. The stories that have been posted from the Special Olympics are no different.

The first personal story from the Games was from Ariel:

"My dream is to be a journalist," he told Stanton, posing for the photo with his mother and grandmother. "This week I would like to cover the feelings of the athletes and parents and coaches. I ask questions like: ‘Are you having fun?’ And ‘What is your favorite sport?’ And ‘Are you enjoying Abu Dhabi?’ My mom is helping me think of the questions to ask. I don’t know what I would do without her."

Read the full caption in the image above.

Stanton doesn't tend to name the people in his posts, unless they name themselves.

Next came Asma's story:

"My dad was always my biggest supporter. He’d come into my room at night and we would talk for hours," her story begins. "I didn’t know what to do after he died. I stayed in my room for six years. I wrote 31 stories. All I did was write. I only came out to eat. I wouldn’t speak to anyone. Last year my sister convinced me to visit an art studio for people with special needs ... The studio slowly opened me up to the world again. I began to make friends. I realised that so many things had happened while I was locked away."

Read the full caption in the image above.

Nazeer's story followed:

Speaking about performing at the opening ceremony, he said: "Tonight I’m doing a poem for the opening ceremony about being the same as everyone else. It’s going to be live on the TV. I’m excited but also a little nervous to be honest. I’m going to pretend like the stadium is empty except for all my friends that I love. My parents are very proud of me. They said: ‘Look at Nazeer. Our shy boy is no longer shy.’"

Read the full caption in the image above.

Nazeer and Asma performed together at the Opening Ceremony on March 14:

The most recent post is from an Opening Ceremony producer, with Nazeer and Asma:

“I worked on Wall Street for five years. I enjoyed the work – but always had the feeling I could do something more meaningful," he revealed. "After six months of planning, I got a call from an old classmate. I hadn’t spoken to him in sixteen years. He told me that his company had won a bid to produce the Special Olympics opening ceremony. His vision was to allow people with intellectual disabilities to design the ceremony themselves. And he asked me to be involved. It was a dream job. I went to work immediately."

Read the full caption in the image above.

Stanton revealed that he would be at the Games in a post of its own:

In the post, he wrote: "The opening ceremony for the Special Olympics World Games is currently being held in Abu Dhabi, UAE. For the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing stories from a wide range of participants including athletes, coaches, and family members.

"The main theme of Special Olympics is inclusion, and that’s what these stories are all about. Having an intellectual disability can be isolating. Society might not be understanding of your needs. Classmates might be confused by your behavior. In some places you might literally be hidden away. Special Olympics is a refuge from all that. It’s a place where you can play and compete and succeed without being made to feel your difference."

In the past, Stanton, 35, who was born in Georgia, United States, has posted from Boston, following the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, from Pakistan and from refugee settlements in Europe, with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The blog was started in 2010 and has since shared nearly 8,000 photos and stories at the time of publishing.

Speaking of what he is looking for in his HONY stories in the past, Stanton has said: "I'm always looking for something that that person has told me that nobody else has told me. It is normally not an opinion, and it is normally not a philosophy. It's almost always a story. Because we all share similar philosophies, we all share similar opinions on a lot of different issues, but all of our stories are our own."

Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more stories and updates from the Special Olympics.

Updated: March 17, 2019 03:20 PM

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